For me, one of the great enjoyments I have with Asian cooking is when I can find a place with hand-pulled noodles. Unfortunately, these aren’t terribly common, especially in the hinterlands of Northern New England (indeed, I’m not sure we have any places that do this, although I’d be delighted to be proven wrong). A good bowl of hand-pulled noodles, especially in a rich, flavorful soup, is a wonderful combination of tastes and textures. Luckily, Montreal has more than a few noodle shops, and one of the newer ones in Chinatown, Nu-do, is another branch of the already well-regarded Nu-do of Eaton Center, and the related Yuki Ramen in Faubourg Ste-Catherine (is there anything decent but Yuki still left in the Faubourg, now that Faubourg Bagels has departed?). So when we were looking for an interesting dinner, we grabbed Rick, Sarah, and Nancy, and walked down to Chinatown.
Nu-do is the exact sort of place I was looking for: a slightly divey noodle shop. It’s been around a while, but they still haven’t invested in permanent signage; the restaurant is labeled with a simple reinforced nylon banner labeling the place as “Restaurant Nudo”, with the “Nudo” obscured by the unsecured corner of the banner. But don’t let the dubious signage discourage you: after heading down a short staircase, you find yourself in a fairly spacious dining room, with a glass wall looking into the noodle cooking station, with the noodle-puller hard at work pulling ribbons of noodle for each order as they come in.
As far as menu goes, the selection is pretty straightforward at Nu-do: you are basically ordering noodles, either lightly sauced or in a soup (three broths available, miso, chicken, and spicy), with a variety of meats and vegetables available as toppings. They’ve also got a good array of appetizers and side dishes, including spring rolls, potstickers (of which we ordered two large plates), and Sichuan-style kimchi (which we also enjoyed). After a few minutes, I decide I had to go with one of my favorite combinations, spicy pork with pickled mustard.
The kimchi was actually a quite pleasant start to the meal, a rich, flavorful, and spicy cabbage mix very similar to its Korean counterpart, I rather enjoyed it. The potstickers were flavorful pork and chive dumplings with a good sear, although these were only a bit better than the usual potstickers I find at similar Chinese places. I’d get them again, but probably not such a huge order of them.
Since the noodles were pulled to order, that does make it a bit hard for the kitchen to get the orders all timed right, in this case, our noodle bowls arrived stretched over almost a ten minute span, with the potstickers delivered well after the meal.
But what they lack in timing, the noodles more than made up for in quality. These were exactly the sort of hand-pulled noodles I had been craving: long and tender noodles, with a chewy texture that is both hearty and toothsome, these were a perfect example showing how fresh-pulled noodles add just that much more to a dish. The broth was also quite rich and flavorful, and the added toppings were plentiful (there was at least a full cup of spicy pork in my bowl along with the noodles) and delicious (my bowl had little bits of lightly pickled and simmered mustard with just a bit of crunch). Adding in a bit of hot pepper oil, this was the perfect dinner, even if we were practically sloshing by the end of the meal (the bowls are quite large).
Overall, Nu-do was a complete success: the hand-pulled noodles are worth going out of your way for, the prices quite affordable, and the portions large and flavorful. Nu-do is very likely to get several return visits from us.