After several months’ delay, the highly anticipated Fat Mao – a noodle bar from award-winning local chef Angus An – opened very softly last night in Chinatown. I slipped in last night and tucked into a bowl of Dan Dan noodles. As you can well imagine, they were outstanding — nutty, electrified with layered spices, and intense enough to make every other bowl of the stuff I’ve ever had in Vancouver seem weak in retrospect.
Also on offer were Taiwanese Beef Noodles, Braised Duck Noodles, Changmai Curry Noodles, Cold Sesame Noodles, and a bunch of sides like pickled vegetables, braised tripe, and scallion pancakes. If that reads like basic stuff, it’s worth remembering that An is one of BC’s better chefs and a food fetishist of the first order. He doesn’t do basic.
They’re still in soft mode, working out kinks and waiting on their liquor license. From now until their official opening on August 19th, they’ll only be serving food from 5pm to 10:30pm (closed Monday and Tuesday), after which point they’ll also open for lunch. Good luck getting a seat. If you arrive to find a line-up, my advice is to stick with it and wait. Here’s the backstory:
One of Vancouver’s leading culinary lights, Angus An (chef/owner of the award-winningMaenam restaurant in Kitsilano), has just taken possession of the ground floor space at 217 East Georgia Street, a brand new building in Chinatown.
The plan for the 730 sqft concrete and glass box is to create a licensed, 24 seat noodle bar called Fat Mao.
The name is a playful paw at our hybrid culture, and though it infers a Cantonese/Mandarin bent (Cantonese “fat” meaning “lucky” and Mandarin “mao” meaning “cat”), the noodles will run a pan-Asian gamut, everything from Thai and Taiwanese to Japanese and Singaporean. Angus tells me there that will be approximately six types on offer, plus six sides and a selection of bottled craft beer.
Angus is a culinary polymath; the guy is seriously well versed in many cuisine types (eg. French, West Coast, Thai). He’s also a complete noodle nut and a local aficionado of noodle joints (not to mention dim sum). Though the goal is for a quick and easy comfort food joint, Fat Mao has all the signs of being a fetishist’s labour of love.
It’s also likely to have a line-up at times on account of how little prep/store space it has. “We’ll start with 100 portions of noodles a day and then work our way up from there,” he says. “I think it’ll be impossible to do 200 portions a day, but we’ll see…” It sounds similar to the supply and demand model of Pizzeria Farina a couple of blocks south on Main Street, which is to say it sounds pretty smart (they stay open until they run out of dough).
With both The Ramen Butcher right next door and Phnom Penh across the street seeing line-ups everyday, it’s fair to wonder if Fat Mao will ever have enough noodles to make it through both lunch and dinner service. Either way, it’s a nice problem to have!
Once the building permit is in place (imminent), construction will get underway with Mark George and Sue Nagy of Kite Studios (did Re-up in New Westminster) doing the design together with Marianne Amodio.