eNoodle – Great Pot Stickers, Bad Noodle
eNoodle is the English name of the Chinese restaurant in Milpitas Square called 小而大. There’s no relation between the meaning of the two names at all. Perhaps eNoodle was chosen to appeal to the mass number of engineers who work nearby in high-tech companies. Because it certainly does not signify that the restaurant specializes in noodle.
Granted, the restaurant does offer a number of noodle dishes, such as the standard Niu Rou Mian (牛肉麵; Beef Noodle) in both hong shao (紅燒; red braised) and qing duen (清燉; clear broth) styles, as well as liang mian (涼麵; cold noodles) and several other types of broth-based noodles. However, the noodle they use is one of the worst out there. It is not hand-made like those found in Shandong style restaurants. It’s not even the garden variety standard noodles found in most other restaurants. Rather, it is most resembling of noodles found in instant ramen noodle packs. And not the very good instant ramen noodles like the Korean ones, but just regular, limp-in-a-minute noodle that goes soft quickly in a bowl of hot broth.
Ok, so maybe I’m a little too harsh, but to me, noodles make or break the noodle dish. (surprise!) I really wanted to like the noodles at eNoodle, but they just don’t cut it for me.
The niu rou mian is supposedly a popular item here. Besides the bad noodle, the beef here is usually tough and the broth is usually watered down and tastes like over-watered instant noodle niu rou mian. The three deadly combinations make it a must avoid. (Grade: D)
The steamed dumpling is advertised as one of the main specials shown in colorful wall photos throughout the restaurant. The version here is done well with standard veggie and meat filling. (Grade: B+)
Another breakfast item was the marinated beef wrapped in pancake. This was a bad version as the huge burrito-like pancake was filled with lettuce and 2 slices of beef. The ratio of beef to the other ingredients was so low that it can definitely qualify to star in the “Where’s the beef” commercial from the 80’s. And the price was about 4 or 5 bucks for this item, way overpriced. (Grade: D)
The saving grace of the restaurant, and to me, the only reason of existence for it are the pot stickers. Aptly named the Zhong Hua Rd. Guo Tie (中華路 ), after the famous open-ended pot sticker style popularized in Taipei’s Zhong Hua Rd eateries in the 70’s and early 80’s. It is now the de-facto style of pot sticker prized all over (at least proclaimed by me, and have been searching for in the US for the past 20 years).
The skin is on the thinner side than those found at ASJ in San Jose, the other pot sticker king in bay area. It is pan fried to perfect golden crispness on the bottom as it is done in Taiwan. The filling is pork and yellow chives (韭黃) , the perfect combination and at the right ratio. One bite of it and you’ll be transformed to pot sticker heaven. This is as good as it gets, either here or even in Taiwan. (Grade: A+)
eNoodle438 Barber Lane
Milpitas, CA 95035