Not Just Noodles sits on the corner of Yonge and Wellesley a hop skip and a jump from my apartment. It is the quintessential cheap-oh Canadian/Chinese food establishment. The interior features brightly lit signs of the restaurants most popular dishes which induce headaches if you stare at them for too long. The furniture is absolutely shabby.
You are probably in disbelief over the fact that I ate here. While I am a huge fan of traditional and authentic Chinese food sometimes you have to give into uncomfortable and unexplainable cravings. It was a few weeks ago when for no apparent reason I had an urge to munch on fried rice, lemon chicken and crispy fried pork tossed in sweet and sour sauce. I didn’t initially tell anyone but as the days passed on and the cravings didn’t subside I finally came clean.
It is at this point in the story that I would like to liven the conversation with the word, Marijuana. I’d like to have a serious discussion about the impacts of THC on sensory evaluation. I invited my friend Erin over after work. We sampled from two bottles of wine, smoked (ever so briefly) and then when the craving for crunch hit us like a bag of bricks we ran out onto Yonge Street with silly grins on our faces. We stood at the counter of Not Just Noodles staring up at their neon menu.
#61 Sweet and Sour Pork
#73 Lemon Chicken
#223 Beef Fried Rice
#251 Cantonese Chow Mein
You basically have to order a Molson at Not Just Noodles to compliment your food as it is a real toast to the Canadian Chinese Food you are about to devour. We sat down on plastic chairs waiting for our food to come out. Each dish arrived to the table with a response that could have only been interpreted by our server as overwhelming delight.
And so, it was on a beautiful evening in March when I started thinking, “has a food writer ever written about the effects of cannabis on the dinning experience? Sensory evaluation involves everything from sound (the clatter of utensils), texture (the beauty of crunch), taste (that MSG), sight (the yellow neon glow of that lemon sauce) and smell (that quintessential greasy Chinese food aroma).
Imagine a food writer who ate at each restaurant twice. First doing a review entirely sober with a critique on the decorum, service, food and beverage. And then, they return a week later perma-baked to enjoy the same dishes. I wonder if their descriptors would change. Would their use of adjectives be more flamboyant, colourful and revealing? Does the texture of the fried rice become noticeably more desirable? I envision an entire website that critiques restaurants out of five stars “when sober” and “when stoned.” I assume many restaurants would fare well under the influence but fail miserably in all other circumstances. And this is the case for Not Just Noodles.