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Downtown Halifax’s Beaver Sailor Diner outshines its name

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PeKing Fried Bean Paste Noodle at Beaver Sailor Diner.

PeKing Fried Bean Paste Noodle at Beaver Sailor Diner.

So, first it was pho, then ramen (we’re still in love), and now what? It doesn’t matter, we just want to slurp comfort noodles, we want more salt and fat, and I have good news.

It’s pretty unassuming and with the exception of its eyebrow-raising name, this Chinese noodle house isn’t crying for attention. Beaver Sailor has been open nearly half a year, but might not be on your radar, as it’s wedged into a tiny space beside the Bluenose II on Hollis Street. A friend who works nearby gave me the tip and now I’m in love with the comforting menu full of noodles and umami flavours, and its low prices for huge portion sizes.

The sparse, clean, simple dining room has just a few tables, maybe 20 seats, and a high-top rail with a few stools along the front window. The atmosphere and decor are casual; no mood lighting here.

The main courses on the menu consist of traditional homemade Chinese noodles, udon and soba with a variety of toppings.  There are a few rice- and potato-based dishes, but the noodles are the star here.

IMG_0293 (1)The seafood oil sprinkled noodle is the standout dish, with chopped pork, dried shrimp, green onion, chili and bean sprout. Thick ribbons of noodle are covered in spicy rich oil. The crunchy dried shrimp adds a satisfying fishy funk to the dish.

The small vegetable dishes (black fungus, pickled radish, seaweed, or thai cucumber and water chestnut salad) are fresh and tangy, a good prelude before a gargantuan bowl of noodles.

Having eaten almost the entire menu, my second favourite noodle bowl is the PeKing fried bean paste noodle, garnished with crab meat, eggs, fried bean paste, green onion, and cucumber. The crab and bean paste mixture is sweet and salty, almost giving the impression of ground beef, and the cucumber brings freshness to the bowl.

All noodle bowls come in a small and large. The small bowls range from $6.99 to $8.99. I’m the kind of girl that has eaten three cheeseburgers at a diner for brunch, and I don’t see the need to get a large portion of these noodles. The small bowls are huge, and more than enough for one.

The dessert menu is extensive, even longer than the snacks, mains, and drinks combined. There are sweet soups, which consists of fruits, rice and jellies in sweet liquid, like coconut milk. There are also ice creams, puddings and bubble tea. The black sticky rice with mango in vanilla sauce was heavenly. It had three distinct textures and three temperatures, which was a treat for the senses. The warm, sweet sticky rice soaked in the middle of a bowl of lukewarm, rich coconut milk, with cold mango pieces sprinkled all over.

Beaver Sailor left me feeling full, satisfied and happy that’d I’d spent so little on a good adventurous meal. This Chinese diner is the perfect downtown lunch spot.

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