Hello and welcome to the third, and final, instalment of the The VanCan ScranVan Diaries, a short experiment in food writing where the words meat, filled and pastries have been in short supply. I’m writing this final instalment in the bowels of the maze that is Heathrow Airport as I wait for my connecting flight home. If I hadn’t been on my holidays this could have turned into a far grander project but as it is it’s been nice to test the waters with something a little bit different.
Today’s review comes from The Roaming Dragon. As I’ve mentioned before Vancouver has a ‘booming’ food truck scene and my final review could have come from any number of places, there was Tacofino, which sold, well tacos obviously which many people had raved about and the ever elusive ‘Yolks Breakfast Company’ who I swear were never at the location they claimed to be each time I tried to visit. Eventually though, on my flinal morning, I plumped for The Roaming Dragon.
So with the intro done, let’s have some Van Scran fun!
Where: Corner of Robson St. and Burrard St.
I had been curious to see just how the Asian influence, that was clearly prevalent throughout the city would translate to the food truck scene especially after two stonkingly good Asian inspired meals in a day (A Dim Sum brunch which included my first taste of BBQ chicken’s feet and a multi-plate Chinese sharer that opened my eyes to a whole new world of vegetarian cookery). Initially I had been drawn in by their online promise of Korean BBQ Tacos however I was more than a little disappointed to see that they were not on the menu come my arrival.
However never being one to turn down a good scran I scanned the available options. My eye was initially drawn to the Beef Rendang Poutine but my poutine experiences both at home and in Canada had been such a let down, despite the abundance of cheese and gravy they often provide, that I decided to play it relatively safe with a Chicken Noodle Box for CAD$12 (Approx. £6.75).
I was instantly glad I opted for the Chicken over the tofu, not because I dislike tofu (I actually think well done tofu can be quite tasty), but because as I started revving the engine on my chopstick fingers it became apparent that the Tofu option would have been exactly the same except without the addition of chicken on top.
First thing I noticed was that the portion was huge, I mean the picture probably doesn’t do justice to the depth of this box but it took me a good 15/20 minutes to eat it all. As well as the chicken the noodles were topped with chopped cashews and peanuts which added a lovely nuttiness that is so often attributed to South-East Asian cuisine. It was also garnished with fully sprouted bean sprouts, a pretty rare occurrence when Iv’e been out and about in the UK. These added a freshness and in the flavour stakes were certainly a ramped up version of the thin white bean sprouts commonly found at home with the leaves adding a slight peppery note. The chicken had been cooked separately and placed on top of the noodles bringing with it a slightly overbearing taste of white wine, initially fine but slowly building as I went. I know the flavour boost that a couple of dashes of shaoxing rice wine can bring to meat but this definitely focused more on the tartness of a white as opposed to the subtle hum of shaoxing or it’s commonly used western alternate sherry.
There is no doubt that the noodles were very tasty heady with soy and flashing hints of ginger, garlic and five spice. The use of fine egg noodles was particularly pleasing for this guy as I think these are the best type to use when it comes to any kind of stir fry dish. The noodles were also dense with vegetables, a concoction of carrots, spring onions and highly-flavoured shitake mushrooms with little pockets of broccoli poking through every so often. The tofu had been stir-fried just long enough to give a crisp texture to a couple of the sides on each small cube whilst still remaining soft enough to eat.
For me though the real skill in this food truck dish was the use of the chopped nuts and fresh bean sprouts adding another dimension to what was a very good, if not a bit safe, chicken noodle dish. If somebody was to offer me it again I wouldn’t turn my nose up at it, although at the same time I wouldn’t rush to ask for the same again.
VanScran Rating: 7/10. Solid.
And so with that this wee adventure ends. Vancouver is a lovely city and if you are super energetic and have acquired a taste for artisan microbrews then there isn’t really anywhere else you should be looking to be.
Until next time, Find a Van. Eat Some Scran!
Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. He has contributed to prominent football sites including Pie & Bovril, The Terrace Podcast, The Football Pink and The FBA’s as well as featuring in The Scotsman, STV and a number of other media outlets. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ with a passion for food that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.