Known on menus as ‘Beef Brisket Water Dumpling Noodle Soup’, I think this is basically the perfect food. Of course, I’m biased. It was Dad’s favourite, and now, it is a favourite of all three of his sons. However, I do think I picked up the preference for Water Dumplings from Mom, a plumper version of a wonton, and with more shrimp.
Sadly, this particular dish is found only in Canada and Hong Kong (being a Cantonese dish). In Australia restaurants, they find it peculiar to have the beef brisket AND wonton along with the noodles and it’s twice the price for a mediocre dish.
What’s special in a good Canadian version is… well, a combination of pretty much everything. A rich, salty broth that has probably been on the stove for a very long time. Thin, chewy noodles, obviously made from scratch. Beautifully made dumplings with slippery skins and the right combo of pork and shrimp, whether wonton or sui gao (water dumplings). And finally, the beef brisket should have some layers of fat, and basically melt in your mouth. Ah, finally a perfect stalk of gai lan is not unwanted. In Sydney, a few limp and watery stalks of bok choy add colour, but not a nice texture or taste.
This particular ngau lam sui gao mein, found at Congee Noodle House, is near perfect. When people ask me if I miss Canada, the easier answer is ‘no’ but the truth is, I miss this dish, from restaurants like this, terribly.