Food Review: Gol’s Lanzhou Noodle

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Hey food fans. This week, my colleagues catalyzed my latest food adventure. They pulled me aside one day with haughty expressions on their faces. 

“You claim to be a reviewer of restaurants, yet you have seen but a measly slice of what Waterloo has to offer,” they cackled. “How could you ever dream of becoming UW’s greatest restaurant reviewer?”

Spurned by their saucy comments, I retorted

“I think I’ve set reasonable goals.”

“Gol’s?” they cried. “What a fantastic place! We should go!”

And so, I journeyed to meet my homophonous savior, Gol’s Lanzhou Noodle, near the east edge of UW’s campus. Immediately upon entering the establishment, I was taken by the décor. Paper lanterns shone bright as stars against black ceilings and black brick walls. Ancient-looking stone statues guarded every corner and were stoically unimpressed by the bopping music. Light wood seating was set up behind wooden slats. A bustling atmosphere full of life and energy filled the space.

One unique feature of Gol’s is that it has two entrances; one in the front and one in the back. While this peculiarity is a strong source of affection amongst their customers, your wait time to be seated strongly depends on which one you enter and at what instant in time. If a tree falls through the back entrance of Gol’s, does anyone hear? Probably only if a table is available.

Unfortunately, the chairs were low-backed and no coat racks were available. As a result, my lengthy winter coat was grounded. It wasn’t a serious problem as its ego had been getting too big as of late.

I ordered the regular size spicy Traditional LanZhou Hand-pull Beef Noodle soup for $9.99. Now came the difficult part: choosing from the exhaustive array of fresh handmade noodles. Upon advisement from my lunchmates, I ordered the SanXi, also known as the Regular Noodles, which are cylindrical in geometry and have medium thickness.

A short while later, my soup arrived steamy and dreamy, delivered with intense protectiveness using what can only be described as the ‘care-y carry’ technique. The soup glided down its bubble wrapped runway flaunting blazing red chilis and rich greens. Its size was impressive, so impressive, in fact, that I have no recollection of my lecture following lunch that day.

The food exactly matched the pictures in the menu, a feat often not achieved in today’s reasonably priced culinary scene. Something so beautiful could hardly be eaten but this beauty was more than spoon deep.

Typically, in hearty Southeast Asian noodle soups, the slices of nearly cooked beef are added to the soup just before serving where they undergo their final metamorphosis. If the timing is off, this can lead to the delivery of beef that is still pink and chewy. Gol’s beef was finished from the get-go, bucking out of the chute with intense beefy flavor and supreme tenderness.

The soup’s broth was hearty, although a bit salty for my taste. The greens were incredibly fresh, providing fantastic crunch and a splash of refreshment. While appearing to be bathed in chilis, the broth offered a very accessible level of spice. Unfortunately, this left the broth’s flavour profile solidly planar.

The noodles (or “noods” as the young’uns have dubbed them) stole the show and my heart. They were full bodied and luxuriously long, like the well-conditioned hair of a platinum blonde Rapunzel. Thankfully, that’s where the resemblance ended. Texturally, these noodles were superior to any other. Their fresh made-to-order preparation clearly had a hand in their exquisitely supple scrumptiousness. A perfectly calculated diameter ensured quick cooking time while retaining a satisfying slurp.

Throughout my dining experience, servers stole across the restaurant, furtively filling water glasses. They had exceptional napkin optics, supplying them at the precise instant they were required. They also provided fantastic re-heatable containers with which to take leftovers home.

Overall, their brilliant ambiance, superior food quality, and exceptionally reasonable prices have earned Gol’s its legendary reputation, an absolute must-dine experience. Be sure to treat yourself and your mother when she comes to visit.

Until next time, stay hungry food fans.

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