I can’t lie: I’m a little obsessed with dumplings. I’ve tried many different kinds, too. From the famous xiaolongbao (soup dumplings), to Japanese gyoza and Korean mandu. I only went to Korea to eat dumplings (not really), and I ate some damn good ones.
So where does John’s Noodle Village come into play? Well, they have my favourite dumplings in Victoria (so far — I haven’t actually tried every single kind of dumpling from every single restaurant). John’s are my favourite because they are handmade and taste awesome (more on that later). They also come on a “secret” dumpling menu. It’s not that secret since it’s on their website, but the first time I went there for takeout I had to ask for it, so I like to think of it as a secret dumpling menu like there’s an elite dumpling club and only those in the know can partake.
So on to the important stuff: the dumplings. They offer a variety of different flavours: you can get pork, beef, chicken, shrimp, squid, lamb, and veggie. I’ve only tried the pork and beef, and usually get the pork since it’s my favourite filling (besides kimchi, but that’s a whole other thing). Every order comes with soy sauce and vinegar so you can make your own dipping sauce. The dumplings are a bit on the small side, but the filling is consistently juicy and flavourful. They are steamed and have a tender, slightly chewy skin. The quantity and price varies from $4.95–$6.95 for 10, or $9.00–$15.00 for 20 depending on your filling.
The other dishes at John’s Noodle Village are more hit or miss. The last time I went in there were three of us — myself, my dad, and my boyfriend. We all ordered soups (with a starter of dumplings, of course). My dad had the wonton shrimp soup, which had two small chunks of broccoli in it along with the wontons and a clear broth. The dish was less of a lunch and more of a starter.
My boyfriend had the BBQ pork noodle soup, loaded with veggies and chunks of BBQ pork. Usually I steal some of his food, but I was so busy with my own stuff that I forgot so I can’t tell you how it tasted. I, meanwhile, had a sichuan beef stew. The beef was flavourful, but a bit chewy and fatty for my liking. The broth was delicious, spicy and beefy, with a hint of a je ne sais quoi flavour I still can’t place. There were lots of veggies and the noodles were cooked perfectly, not too soggy or soft like they sometimes get in soup.
In all, I’d say the soups at John’s Noodle Village are good, the dumplings are amazing (just make sure to ask for the right extra menu if they don’t bring it), and the service was efficient and attentive. It’s definitely a Chinese restaurant worth checking out if you are close to downtown, but don’t want to make the trek all the way to Chinatown.