The Noodler

Friday, October 27, 2006


369 Spadina Ave

I chose to go to this restaurant because of the fact that I had heard nothing about it from anyone. The other restaurants reviewed so far I have had some sort of familiarity with through memory or recommendations. The reason that no one recommended E-Pan to me is most likely because it is a very new restaurant, with ‘Grand Opening’ signs still adorning the sandwich board on the sidewalk. The thing that drew me to this place was its décor. On the outside it is completely out of place in Chinatown. Its façade is a modern wood, and it looks like someone transplanted it from a chic area like Yorkville. The inside is also very different from the usual Chinatown restaurant. It has mood lighting with modern lamps, and a wait staff in matching uniforms. On first impression it seems like an excellent place to bring a first date.

My companion and I were quickly seated at one of the empty tables; only three others were occupied. We then gave our drink order and looked at the menu. There were two different menus, one standard and one of chef’s recommendations. The menu in general is a mix of Asian style food, from Peking duck to boneless duck foot with wasabi.

We first ordered the Hunan dumplings with peanut butter sauce and the enoki mushroom and snow pea leaf dumplings. The Hunan dumplings came first and looked wonderful. There were six dumplings sitting on peanut butter sauce and then drizzled with red chili oil. It was clear that someone had put some thought into the plating, which was a welcome change from the usual inattention to presentation normally found in Chinatown. We then tasted the dish and it was delicious. The soft dumplings combined with the sweet salty peanut butter sauce was a wonderfully complimented by the spice of the oil.

Then came the enoki and snow pea leaf dumplings: there were three presented in a bamboo basket. The dumpling wrapper was translucent and the snow pea mixture inside was visible. They were also very hot and fresh. In my first bite I was greeted with the texture of the snow pea leaf greens, which were slightly crunchy but had an almost slimy texture, truly remarkable. I had difficulty isolating the flavour of the enoki mushroom, which was a major draw to the dish.

We then ordered the pan fried pork dumpling and a plate of shredded duck and vermicelli. The pork dumplings were average at best, containing a hint of chive and little else for flavouring. The shredded duck vermicelli arrived and it was even more bland. There was little to no vegetable in the dish, which I thought was just the restaurants style until one of the wait staff rushed out the front door and came back minutes later carrying bags of newly purchased produce. The ducks flavour was good, but there was a lot of soggy fatty skin and small pieces of bone included with it. The dish was mostly composed of bland noodle with what seemed to be some kind of broth for sauce. The dish was a complete disappointment. I looked on the table for the standard bottle of soya sauce to add a little flavour, only to find that there was none on my table, or any of the other tables in the restaurant.

For a restaurant that started very strong, the finished meal turned out to be disenchanting. The wait staff were excellent although a tad overzealous in their service. They spoke good English and were polite and knowledgeable about the food. This restaurant would be a good place to take a first date if you are looking for ambience above food. The price as reasonable at $27 with a tip, but since for me it is food above all else I give E-Pan a C+.


  • is that you sydney? this is jim!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:26 AM  

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