U Canteen – Beef Brisket Noodle Soup and Dumplings

U Canteen on Heathcote Street in Hockley is a really great little Chinese Diner, on their Facebook page they describe themselves as  serving “Authentic Home-Style Real Chinese Food“, which sounds great as that is just what I am looking for.

I like the menu, it has a lot more regional food which is my code for ‘full of stuff that you may be uncertain or wary of’.  As soon as I saw that they were serving dishes like  “Spicy Ginger Chicken Feet”, “Pig Intestine Chilli Pot” and “Braised Pig Ear” I kind of knew that this wasn’t your typical Westernised Chinese spot.’

I was, as I often seem to be, on the hunt for noodles and for dumplings , and it seemed that I had probably found the right spot to cater for my whim.  I checked out the soup noodle options and for me it was a choice between the Beef Brisket, the Duck, and the Honey Pork. I had read a review by the LeftLion last year where they had been raving about the honey pork noodles so I was quite tempted to try those .

Recently though I have been all over the beef noodles in and around town (Lanzhou Beef Noodles and Nosh in Beeston to just name two great ones) and I just had to keep on that journey so I ended up just going for that classic (again),

I reckon I can come back again for the Honey Pork ones 🙂

I then saw that they did have steamed and grilled dumplings on the menu so it seemed only right that I should order a side dish of those as well, just …. because ……I …..could 🙂

Beef Brisket Noodles

The Beef Brisket Noodles is a bit of a classic soup noodle dish, it is very simple yet very and I mean very enticing. A big bowl of beefy stock filled up with soft noodles, piles of meaty brisket, soft chinese leaf cabbage, topped with crunchy slices of green scallions. In this version  at U Canteen the stock for the soup was  flavoured gently mostly with a hints of five spice and star anise. It did have a decent beefiness to the flavour but nothing too heavy, it felt like quite a light broth to slurp.

So the main thing I like about the version from U Canteen is very much the actual chunks of brisket, they are a lot more redder or pinker in colour than some other places, a lot fattier and also I like that there are chewy pieces in amongst it all that are chewy due to crispiness not due to gristle. You can see the fatty loveliness glistening in the bowl (well in the photo from Monday anyway) and as I say many a time I love that in my bowls of Chinese food, this is no place for fanciness and the such like.

Grilled Dumplings

Before I reached the main event of the noodles I did make the classic mistake of forgetting that I was actually dining alone as I decided it would be a good idea to order another one of my most favourite delights and that was a plate of grilled dumplings.

They were pretty good, nice chewy crisp coating filled with a tasty pork and vegetable filling.  I managed to eat about half with my chopsticks, dipping each hot little parcel into the accompanying dip of Chinese vinegar and light soy before the bowl of soup noodles had arrived.

After that though it was a free for all and I had cast the chopsticks aside, picking up the remaining dumplings with my fingers, dunking them in both the soup and the ‘official’ side dish dip without a care, well I say that but perhaps it was with just a slight nod as to what tasted good, but no actual consideration for the correct thing to be doing, such wanton and brazen behaviour, eat with me at your peril but with the expectation of there being the likelihood of mouthfuls of delight 🙂

Footnote on the First Visit

I have a small confession, I first came in to U Canteen to eat this dish on Sunday lunchtime and It was really quite excellent. The only problem was that the photo I took like a total loser of a food blogger was blurred and basically the sort of picture that you wish on those instagrammers you see snapping away at their food when they should just be troughing it down like no-ones business, so lets be honest this was karma for normal people.

Yeh whatever man, I just did what I quite often do when this happens, I just came back the next day and ate exactly the same meal just so that I could get a better photograph, not just one, I took three or four just to make sure.

It wasn’t a chore it was actually quite a delight, I mean who needs an excuse to eat a great bowl of noodles two days in a row? The interesting thing was though that on each occasion I had a different type of noodle in the soup, I suppose I might be curious to know just how consistent that is at U Canteen.

It doesn’t really matter as both were very tasty. I did prefer the thicker noodles on the first day, but the thinner type on the second visit were more plentiful if a little bit more ramen like and perhaps held on to the soup a bit better.

The meat was just as good, perhaps on the Sunday it was a little longer cooked with more crispiness and less fattiness, and perhaps the broth was thicker and deeper in flavour, perhaps as I say it doesn’t matter.

Summary – I got two bowls of noodles 🙂

Menu of Noodles

I still think that I need another trip so that I can try out some of the other noodle dishes, for certain I need to try that Honey Pork Noodle dish, but I also really want to try the Hot Beijing and the Hot Szechuan Noodles as well.

I probably need to explore the rest of menu and perhaps step outside of my Westernised comfort zone to take on some of those less familiar dishes

U Canteen is pretty easy to find, it is located at 7 Heathcote Street in Hockley, it is just along from Sexy Momma Loves Spaghetti and across the road from the Hanson Chinese Supermarket.

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