Do you need a fork? Sadly this is a phrase that I hear all too often at Asian restaurants. I must look very awkward while using chopsticks, because every time I sit down for a bowl of Pho, a heaping plate of Pad Thai, or a steaming bowl of Ramen, I am almost immediately offered North American cutlery. At first I was offended, I mean who are you to say that I don’t know how to use chopsticks properly? Does this happen to everyone? I just assumed that the waitstaff gave forks to all non-Asians, and then it hit me:
I am really crappy at using chopsticks.
Granted, no one ever taught me how to use chopsticks when I was a kid; authentic Asian food was hard to come by where I grew up. When I finally started travelling and eating various meals that required these cunning utensils, I just went with the flow and taught myself (hence the awkward chopstick handling). It was only after moving to Toronto for grad school, where I fell in love with Asian food, that someone finally taught me how to use them properly. I started to master the art, which I am embarrassed to say, I have yet to achieve. It really is a true wonder to me how people are able to use them with such finesse and ease. I think it’s hard.
A few weeks ago Adam and I went to Truly Tasty on Quinpool Road for lunch. It was our first time there, and I was pretty impressed with the modern decor: The walls were not covered with the stereotypical Asian art and the furniture was sleek and new. We were greeted by a very friendly server and chose our lunch pretty quickly. The lunch menu is small and direct: dumplings and ramen. What more do you need?
After ordering, the server brought water and a small Sprout Salad. The tiny salad was packing quite the punch with its intense flavours of chili and its deliciousness really got our tummies grumbling.
But sure enough, before I had brought the first bite to my mouth, the server appeared out of nowhere and asked: Do you need a fork?
Okay lady, I know I must look like I’m struggling to get this little bean sprout into my mouth, but give me a chance. I managed to eat the salad without the fork, success!
For our mains, we chose the lunch special, Ramen with Pork, and an order of pork dumplings to share (we like pork). The steaming bowls of ramen came out really fast and they were huge even though we had ordered the small! It looked and smelled amazing.
The ramen was great. The pork belly was cooked perfectly, soft and juicy, the egg was magically brown on the outside and was deliciously gooey on the inside. The noodles were the perfect texture, and there was also some tree fungus in there that I couldn’t identify specifically, but it was awesome too! I did have to give in and use a fork, which I was actually grateful for at this point, there was so much yummy food in front of me I didn’t want to slow down to use the chopsticks.
The dumplings were less than great for me, Adam finished mine, but overall the meal was really good! I am so happy to have found a great ramen spot in Halifax and I will definitely be back for more. I encourage anyone who hasn’t tried this hidden gem to Explore.Eat.Repeat. yourself down to Quinpool Road, immediately.
And so continues my struggle with attaining the perfect chopstick skills. I will trudge on in the hopes of one day not being asked the dreaded question: Do you need a fork?
Things Worth Mentioning…
Cost: SO CHEAP! For lunch for two it was less than 25$ plus tip. A great bang for your buck.
Things I liked: The surprising decor and the pork belly.
Things I didn’t: The dumplings.
Best Place to Sit: Near the back of the restaurant, it gets a little drafty on the first level close to the door.
What To Order Next Time: More dumplings. I want to give them another try, maybe the veggie ones.