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Craving noodles but tired of ramen? Chinese “lai mein” (or pulled noodles) are definitely a great, if not better, alternative.

Unfortunately there aren’t very many options in the GTA so when I heard about Magic Noodle, it was only a matter of time before I dropped by for a visit. If you live downtown, it’s a bit of a trek as it’s located in a plaza on McNicoll and Midland in Scarborough. But it’s well worth a visit!

Magic Noodle

Magic Noodle is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I’ve read that they’re perpetually busy so I recommend going during off-peak times. Mike and I arrived on a Sunday for a late lunch around 1:30 to find the place slammed – the entrance of the restaurant was packed with people spilling outside. We ended up waiting half an hour for a table for two.

The interior

The tables are tightly packed in the relatively clean space. Down one side of the restaurant you’ll find the open kitchen where you can watch the magic happen (sorry, I just had to!). I loved watching them make the hand pulled and hand sliced noodles. They’re definitely fresh!

The open kitchen

Magic Noodle’s menu is quite extensive with a huge selection of hand pulled noodles, Shanxi sliced noodles, special snacks, cold dishes and sizzling dishes.

After our half hour wait, we were famished and ordered a few things to supplement our noodle bowls. From the special snacks section of the menu, we ordered a Goubuli Pork and Leek Bun ($0.99). I wasn’t expecting much since they specialize in noodles but this was really, really delicious! With a nice filling-to-bun ratio, the filling was juicy and perfectly seasoned.

Pork and Leek Bun

Up next was the Lamb Kebab ($1.99) which arrived on a metal skewer. It was heavy on the seasoning, as you can see, and had a nice kick to it. Fatty and delicious!

Lamb Kebab

The last non-noodle dish we ordered was the Beef Wrap ($5.99). The meat itself was pretty solid but I didn’t like the pancake wrap at all – it had a cardboard-like texture to it. Next time I’d pass on this.

Beef Wrap

The first bowl of noodles we tried was the Hand Pulled Noodle with Braised Brisket ($6.99 small/$7.99 large). Topped with a generous amount of cilantro and green onions, this bowl of noodles hit it out of the park. The broth was packed full of flavour and I loved the fatty pieces of beef brisket it came with. As for the noodles themselves, they had a great chew to them and were cooked to a perfect al dente. Delish!

Hand Pulled Noodle with Braised Brisket

We also wanted to try their sliced noodles and decided on the Sliced Noodle with Traditional Braised Pork ($7.99 small/$8.99 large). The sliced noodles are thicker and much shorter than regular noodles – the size of rice cakes. Their thickness and chewiness, give them a rice cake-like texture which I really enjoyed.

Sliced Noodle with Traditional Braised Pork

Unlike the hand pulled noodles which sat in a broth, these noodles sat in a pool of sauce. Make sure to mix it well so the sauce coats all the noodles. The soy-based sauce is packed full of flavour and the fatty bits of pork belly really made it one satisfying bowl of noodles.

Sliced Noodle with Traditional Braised Pork (post-mixing)

Overall, we really enjoyed our meal at Magic Noodle. Sure, the service leaves much to be desired but it’s as expected given that their success is driven by quick turnover. I really wish hand-pulled noodles would get the same kind of traction in Toronto as ramen. In the meantime, it looks like I’ll have to make the trek to Scarborough to get my fix!

At a glance:
• Specializing in Chinese “lai mien” (pulled noodles) and Shanxi sliced noodles
• Located on McNicoll and Midland in Scarborough
• Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
• Usually packed; especially during peak times; be prepared to wait
• Tightly packed tables; quick turnover
• Loved the hand pulled noodles with brisket and sliced noodles with traditional braised pork

Ratings (out of 5):
• Food: 4 stars
• Service: 2 stars
• Atmosphere: 2 stars

Magic Noodle on Urbanspoon

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