Double-Down: Au Petit Café & Long’s Noodle House

June 6th, 2008 · 13 Comments

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The World’s First Double-Down

Target 2.4: Au Petit Café

au-petit-cafe-extAddress: 4851 Main Street
Phone: (604) 873-3328
Menu: Page 1; Page 2; Condiments Photo
Hours Photo

Visit date: May 9th, 2008
Visit time: 12:00 Noon


Jason’s ratings (#25 rare beef) –

Broth: 7/10
Beef: 7.5/10
Noodle: 8/10
Condiments: 5.5/10
Other factors (service, atmosphere, etc): 8.5/10

Jason’s total: 7.3/10

Des’ ratings (#27 rare beef, cooked beef, beef balls) –

Broth: 8/10
Beef: 8/10
Noodle: 7.5/10
Condiments: 7/10
Other factors: 8/10

Des’ total: 7.7/10

Total Score (averaged across both raters, all variables) = 7.5/10
Quality per dollar (based on large pho) = 1.11/$

Description from Jason:

A few days before I left for Thailand, Des and I embarked on what only be called the world’s first double-down. We didn’t intend a double-down, as I’m sure no one in his right mind would, but it happened. So here we go.

au-petit-cafe-meatball-subThe double-down started Au Petit Café because you have to get there early to make sure there are sandwiches left. Des and I have been burned by this inconvenient truth in the past and we weren’t about to let it happen again. On weekdays noon appears to be the magic hour at Au Petit to guarantee a sandwich, anything after and you’re playing a dangerous game. I showed up slightly before then and Des a bit after and we were glad we did as the place was packed with the phone ringing off the hook. People are obviously aware of the fact that sandwiches can be preordered to guarantee a shot at their crusty savory goodness. I guess that is the way to go, but it does seem to take some of the sport out of the experience. Arriving closer to opening (10AM) is even better, as it also avoids the inevitable afternoon lineup.

I must admit that I was a touch skeptical about the sandwiches, especially with all the hype surrounding them. Hype can be great, but it can also lead to black eyes and broken hearts when it increases expectations to unreachable levels (see: Iron Man & Crash for relevant examples). But surprisingly, my expectations of these sandwiches were largely met. We tried the #1, a sub with house-made ham, meatballs, vegetables and hot peppers ($4.50). As most readers probably already know, the reason for the limited quantities at Au Petit is that they also make their bread in house. It shows. Warm, crisp, and doughy on the inside, they are the perfect container for the herbaceous, spicy fillings. We also tried the #2, which is basically the same except for house pate subbing for the meatballs. It was also good, but we preferred the meatball as it was a bit more substantial.

au-petit-cafe-phoOf course, this isn’t a banh mi down and as you may of guessed, the pho really isn’t the star of the show at Au Petit. That’s not to say it’s terrible; it isn’t. It’s more like the Robin of dishes – if you’re being kidnapped by the Joker you’d be happy to see Robin, but surely you’d rather it be Batman and Robin, or at least just Batman. The broth is really as average as average gets: somewhat meaty, somewhat aromatic and somewhat boring. The forgetability is present with the beef and noodle. It’s only the condiments that were truly lackluster, mainly in how limited they were. Just steamed bean sprouts and lime. That’s it. At least give me a sawtooth herb! And I’ll never get the steamed bean sprout thing. They are going to cook in the soup regardless, so why rob them of the initial crunch?

So maybe it was that we skipped lunch for an early breakfast. Maybe the excitement over my upcoming trip to Thailand was contagious. It could have been a myriad of things, but we were still a bit hungry after Au Petit Café. So being the productive Eat Vancouver writers we are, we popped in next door to Long’s Noodle House for a Xiaolongbao-down. Say what?

Target 5: Long’s Noodle House

longs-noodle-house-wine-chicken4853 Main Street
Phone: (604) 879-7879
Menu: Page 1; Page 2
Hours Photo
Price: $4.99 for 6 baos

Visit date: May 9th, 2008
Visit time: 1:00 PM


Jason’s ratings

Soup: 8.5/10
Pastry: 7/10
Meat: 7.5/10
Other items & condiments: 4/5
Service & atmosphere: 3.5/5

Jason’s total: 7.625/10

Des’ ratings –

Soup: 9/10
Pastry: 7/10
Meat: 8/10
Other items & condiments: 4/5
Service & atmosphere: 3.75/5

Des’ total: 7.9375/10

Total Score (averaged across both raters, all variables) = 7.78125
Quality per dollar (based on an order of six) = 1.55937

Jason’s notes –

We didn’t order a lot at Long’s, for obvious reasons, but what we did order stood out as uncommonly good, including the xiaolongbao.

We started off with the cold wine chicken appetizer ($4.95), a Shanghai staple. This is something we’ve had at a lot of places around Vancouver and although this dish never blows me away – I find it a bit bland – this was my favorite rendition so far. The chicken was meaty, not as much fat and bones as at other places, and the way it was packed, in a little earthen pot, allowed maximal meat marination. They knocked this one out of the park. The beef rolls ($4.95) weren’t as great, but a fine job nonetheless featuring flavorful beef and fresh herbs.

longs-noodle-house-xiaolongbaoDes and I agree that the xiaolongbao here were among the best we’ve had, but not perfect. What really stood out here, even after all we had eaten, was the broth, which might be tops in the bao-down so far. It was just rich, full of flavor and plentiful to boot. The pastry could have held up better – we had two breaches of the original six. The meat was also properly fatty, but nothing to write home about.

To conclude, I wouldn’t ever recommend doing a double-down (hear that Knightafter?), but hey, if you’re sitting on a 10 and the dealer’s got a 4, then why not?

Long's Noodle House on Urbanspoon

Tags: Chinese · Pho · Xiaolongbao

13 responses so far ↓

  • 1 chowman // Jun 7, 2008 at 6:39 am

    Excellent writing as usual.

    I really enjoy the banh mi at Au Petite Cafe.

    Could you clarify why there is a concern with showing before noon for a sandwich (“playing a dangerous game”)? Perhaps your comment applies to weekdays?

    I pop in around 10:30 on the weekends to ensure that banh mi are available. Attending at noon on a weekend is pretty much a guarantee that one spends a good amount of time on the sidewalk waiting to get in.

  • 2 Jason // Jun 7, 2008 at 10:30 am

    Thanks Chowman. Those mistakes are my penalty for late night ‘down recapping.

  • 3 dave riley // Jun 10, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    You have the wrong name in the title for target 5: Lin’s Chinese Cuisine…

  • 4 Jason // Jun 10, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    there’s a simple answer to that: i’m an idiot

  • 5 reader // Aug 7, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    I’m curious to your reply to my question which is “have you ever had xiao long bao at A wong’s? /Shanghai wonderful restaurant in richmond (across from landsdowne)? ” If you have, please tell me you think it’s better than long’s. If not, PLEASE do your tastebuds afavour and try XLB at wong’s. I love wongs and they deserve the award. I personally have something against long’s and think it’s overrated and the noodle soups there are a major atrocity!!!!

  • 6 Jason // Aug 9, 2008 at 9:25 pm

    Never been to Wong’s. I’d love to try it thought.

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  • 12 Kim // Feb 6, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    To Reader posted Aug 7, 2008.
    If you still check this, “Wong’s” is the chinese name of the restaurant Shanghai Wonderful (Across street from Landsdowne) and YES, their XLB’s are wayyyy better than LONGS!! .. They make fresh XLB’s at Shanghai Wonderful.. just a tip – bring someone who can read Chinese!

  • 13 Batman // May 17, 2009 at 11:33 pm

    Au Petit Cafe don’t buy more bread to sell because they can’t find anyone to hire to put the stuff in the bread.
    Just a note, they don’t make their own bread. They do make everything else though.

    Longs does make fresh XLB.. you just didn’t see it.

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