Address: 5970 16th Ave. Unit 110, Markham ON
Phone: (905) 544 – 7211
Papa Chang’s was first encountered at the Markham Night it Up event, and its stall had a massive lineup for popcorn chicken. I did not line up for the food that evening because I always wondered about the quality, cleanliness and consistency of the foods when there are numerous orders on the go. Therefore, I give thanks to my friends for taking me to the REAL store to try the chicken and other food items not at the night market.
Papa Chang’s storefront is hidden in a corner at a strip plaza in Historic Markham, with the main intersections at 16th Ave and Main Street. I do not find a lot of advertisement on the papers for the restaurant, hence, I believe a lot of businesses are made by word of mouth. Location benefits the owners because according to Markham ethnic demographics, at least 80% of the population are Asian.
The store is extremely small, with a sitting area of maybe 100-200 square feet, approximately 25 seats in total. Expect yourself to sit should-to-shoulder with your neighbours. During peak hours – 11:00am – 2:00pm and 6:00pm – 9pm– the restaurant is hustling and bustling. I waited for a good hour till I got seated. Take a walk around the neighbourhood, they will call you when seats are available. If you do not like waiting, take-out is available for consideration.
No fancy decorations, which felt quite practical and follows the street food stall theme in Asia. Prompt service and was friendly. They were extremely hardworking that the bowls and dishes were regularly cleaned and the chef himself ultimately came out to pass the food. Down to earth group, no age gaps nor owners being conceited and showing authority. Every customer were well respected. My only dislike or complaint was how the servers were gossiping or bad mouthing about other similar restaurants. I thought it was quite unethical and unprofessional.
Authentic Taiwanese food is served and the chef learned these recipes directly in Taipei. On their menus, the sign “NO MSG” was seen. Is it true?
Pop Corn Chicken ($4.99) is one of their signature dishes and stapled foods. Thousand Island dipping sauce is served on the side, which does not really help in boosting the flavours of the appetizer. Chicken bites battered in a salt and pepper spice for deep frying. The skin was crispy and crunchy while maintaining the core’s moisture and juiciness. I particularly enjoyed the burst of flavours in your mouth when you bite in it. It was dry and not oily.
Pork Thick Soup Noodle ($6.49) was made with a meat soup base. Nappa, carrots, wintermelon and mushrooms were among the mixture of ingredients. The pork was dipped in fish paste, giving the meat slices a different texture and appearance, while maintaining the moist and natural flavours of the pork. The meat felt extra soft and chewy. Noodles were al dente and entirely submerged in the thick soup. The noodles really picked up the soup flavour. Maybe after eating the popcorn chicken, I find the thick soup a bit bland. It was tasteless and was slightly sour.
Satay Pork Thick Soup with Rice ($5.99) is more or less the same as the noodles, therefore, very similar taste and same ingredients used. I still taste the sourness in the rice dish, which I find quite odd. The main difference was the tablespoon of satay sauce you have to mix into the soup. The satay sauce, in my opinion, did not enhance the overall flavour of the rice. I liked how the rice maintained its shape and moisture in the thick soup because too much water in rice can make it mushy.
The thick soup reminds me of the food stalls shark fin soup, thick broth and thinly sliced ingredients, which appealed to me. The experience at Papa Chang’s was enjoyable and it was true, NO MSG was detected in the foods, very natural and authentic. I recommend the eatery for the quality food they provide. For the cost of the meal, the portions were big and very filling. Maybe my taste buds were not on par, causing the noodles and rice taste a bit bland and sour. But I will return to try other items on the menu~