"I was wondering why there isn't a Chinese restaurant in the heart of Chinatown, so that's why we chose this location." - David Wu, Rhinofish Owner.
Located at the heart of the Chinatown District in Vancouver, Rhinofish is a traditional noodle bar serving up Taiwanese noodles with a twist. David is right in that there are few Chinese eateries in the area. Take a look around and you will see Juke's Fried Chicken, The Keefer Bar, Pacific Poke and DALINA.
Step inside and you are greeted by a cosy space, with a long communal table alongside the red brick wall. Eclectic lighting fixtures hang from the ceiling, branching out into a triangle. Windows on both sides of the restaurant draw in natural light and invite tourist attention at this busy intersection.
The intriguing murals on the walls also caught our attention, and we were told that David's friend had created these the two murals as part of their side hobby (we wish were this good at OUR side hobbies!) As expected you can find a rhino and a fish in the mural, but there are several other whimsical elements such as the monkeys in various playful poses, and a giraffe that is asking if you have eaten yet in its speech bubble. When the restaurant opened it was the Year of the Monkey, so David had requested the addition of monkeys into the mural to mark this milestone.
As it was a warm summer day when we stopped by, David offered us a cooling drink - The Rhinofish - with tomato juice, salty plum and apple sidra. It's their take on a non-alcoholic version of the Caesar. We must say it quenched our thirst and stimulated our appetite for the tasting dishes to come.
To beat the heat, we made sure we had the 'Liang Miang' (Cold Dry Noodles) on our list, along with the restaurant's signature Niu Rou Mian (Taiwanese Beef Noodle) and their most popular starter, the Gua Bao (Taiwanese Steam Bun with Pork Belly).
If you have longed to try traditional Taiwanese dishes, Rhinofish is your best bet to experience the top culinary choices from Taiwan.
The Cold Dry Noodle sesame peanut sauce, carrot, cucumber, egg skin and shiitake mushrooms is amazing for a hot day. The noodles are chewy and just the right texture despite the sauce dressing.
The Niu Rou Mian is what everyone should have on their first visit. The Rhinofish version offers up tasty beef shank and short ribs, but extremely tender. We noticed that the beef shank was slightly crispy on the outside, and asked David about why that was. He had slightly fried the exterior of the beef shank to add an extra layer of taste; we must say it worked wonderfully well.
While we know we tasted the dishes in reverse, we couldn't help ourselves but dig into the welcoming cold noodles and then the steaming hot signature beef noodles. Our last dish was actually the starter, the Gua Bao with pork belly, Asian sauerkraut and peanut powder. Asian sauerkraut and pork belly are ingredients found in a very popular traditional Chinese dish, Steamed Pork Belly with Preserved Mustard Greens, and when incorporated into a bao, the taste is surprisingly both familiar and new.
If you are looking for an ideal spot in Chinatown to grab some tasty Taiwanese Beef Noodles, Rhinofish is the place to be. While you are at it we would also recommend the Cold Dry Noodle, because who wouldn't want that on a hot summer day?