Late night in Chinatown has to be one of my favourite times…
The markets wheel in their produce for the night, tucking it into fluorescent sunshine,
leaving behind tattered cardboard and stickers, impressions of jackfruit and bok choy. The workday bustle slows to a hum as the restaurants fill up.
On our cold happy walk along Spadina, Elvir and I found Dumpling House closed, which we were craving. We continued walking, and came across Homemade Ramen. For every door closed another one opens…
Walking in to the sharp slap of lamian noodles against the counter. Standing behind the flowers, the noodle maker was twisting the lanky noose of noodles, tossing and pulling until strands magically appeared. We sat, with our tea steaming.
After the noodles were cut, he threw them through the window at his right into a steaming pot.
The noodles were simultaneously soft and plushy, but with a body that, after a quick futile bout of elasticity, gently gave way to the cleave of my bite. I felt like I was eating a bowl full of satisfaction, of pure craving. Polka dots of broth quickly grew on the table around us from slurping the ends of noodles, flicks of liquid painted around us. Sexy, fatty, braised pork broth coated each noodle with luxurious gelatin and it coated my mouth with umami: that full mouth feeling of comfort. Settling into the bowl and warming my hands on my cup of tea, I would be startled to life: the slap of fresh noodles against the work bench, the crunch of sulphury daikon, the allium brightness of scallion. While the fat coated the noodles and my lips, the scallion lingered and left that strange chemical green.
The waitress, standing with her hand across her wrist, watching everybody eat.
We leave, pleased. The night ends down the street at Grossman’s Tavern, dancing to Django’s Minor Swing among familiar faces, happy to be alive.