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Hey Noodles, one of the country's leading brands specializing in Chongquing street food, has officially opened its seventh North American location in the Annex near Bloor and Bathurst.
Originating in Chongquing, the company opened their first GTA location in 2015 in Chinatown, and within a few weeks, the restaurant's popularity exploded. Years later, they continue to see a need for expansion, as the demand for their flavourful noodles remains on an upward trend.
Chief Operating Officer Kevin Liu says, "We are very proud to be members of the communities we serve. The last year and a half has been challenging for us and posed great obstacles for the restaurant industry."
"Though the months leading up to the grand opening of our Annex location were tough, we saw a silver lining in the support we received from our valued customers. Their kind words, steady orders for our authentic dishes, and social media support reminded us of why we opened up shop in the first place -- to serve the communities we have the privilege of being in, to share authentic recipes hailing from the streets of Chongqing, and to use our food as a conduit to bring comfort."
The specialty at Hey Noodles is the Xiăo Miàn, which translates to "little noodles," and they can be served with or without soup. Chongqing noodle dishes like Xiăo Miàn are typically spicy and are prepared using a variety of seasonings and sauces, depending on the desired flavour.
It's best to create your own bowl of Xiăo Miàn noodles to get the proper experience. After selecting the protein base, you will select the noodle type (egg, sweet potato or rice), followed by the spice and numbing level. Each bowl comes with a marinated egg, cilantro, green onion, garlic, peanut, sesame and sesame paste, but you can opt in to remove any of them should you please.
The Szechuan-style Beef Brisket noodle bowl is one of the most popular items on the menu; the beef is tender and is rendered soft and satisfying with incredible flavour after hours of marinating and cooking in house.
They have several other Xiăo Miàn dishes available, like the Minced Pork and Chickpea, the Lamb or the Fried Chicken. Hey Noodles also offers free noodle refills on all of their Xiăo Miàn, so no need to worry if you accidentally slurp down all your 'noods' before finishing your broth!
Speaking of fried chicken, the Salted Crispy Chicken bites are an excellent way to kick off your meal. The chicken is cooked to perfection, and comes in bite-sized pieces. Be sure to also snag an order of the Szechuan Style Wontons, or the Dumplings, which come in a few different flavours and are served with a special Chinese vinegar.
The crowd favourite -- among the non-soup-based items -- are the Peanut Butter Dry Noodles, another customizable option on the menu. The dish is sweet and savoury and contains fresh toppings like red cabbage, lettuce shreds, cucumber shreds and green onion. You can also select your choice of protein (beef brisket, grilled pepper or minced pork), noodles (flat or round) and spice level.
We also recommend sipping on one of their iced fruit teas, sodas or slushes, to quench your thirst and beat the heat of your spicy noodles. The Passionfruit Green Tea with Lime is a favourite, as well the Plum Soda, the Mango Slush and the Strawberry Yakult.
The seventh Hey Noodles is located at 526 Bloor Street West, and is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Sunday. Orders for pick-up or delivery can be placed directly online or via Uber Eats. To be notified on the opening of new locations, be sure to follow them on Instagram. Pro-tip, they usually celebrate by offering $1 signature noodle dishes for a limited amount of time.