Food Friday: Noodle Edition

17 Sep

Ask anyone who knows me: the way to my heart is through my stomach.*  It’s been years and years since I visited Costa Rica, but when asked about my trip there I promptly respond that the bread was amazing.  It’s a joke that my family remembers vacations primarily by how good the food was.  (Boulder CO, rock on you crazy delicious hippies.)

The area around Chuanda is full of my favorite kind of restaurants, little hole-in-the-wall mom’n’pop shops where the menu is printed once on the wall and nothing is in English and you really should bring your own tea, honest.  I’m a big fan of noodles, even if it’s 95F out.  Always have been.  My personal goal is to eat at every noodle place within a three mile radius of campus.  I’m well on my way to victory.

So far, the clear winners are the ethnic minority noodle shops.  By FAR.  China, as befitting a country with 1.3 billion residents, has 55 officially recognized minority groups (and one very large Han majority).  Most of these ethnic groups are found in the Southwest, which, by total coincidence, is kind of where I am.

This is from a Xinjiang restaurant outside of south gate.  Yes, that is a couple of tomatoes sliced up like a bloomin’ onion and sprinkled with rock sugar.  It is delicious.  The noodles are fantastic, lightly seasoned with ground beef and some delicious red and green peppers.

Also from the same Xinjiang restaurant, tonight’s dinner.  Oh my god, this was fantastic.  Gan bian cao fan.  It tasted like a spicy tomato paste and noodle stir-fry with peppers, onions, and delicious bits of grilled pork.  I devoured it like a starving lion.

Another of my favorites is a Muslim run Lanzhou noodle place.  I rather like eating at the Muslim places here in China because they take their food preparation seriously and you don’t end up with, ah, la duzi, if you know what I mean.  Also, very little chance of the mystery meat being dog.  Yay Mohammad!

Below, you have egg-fried noodles.  Surprisingly, they threw in some huajiao in there, which added a nice kick to the whole thing.  Huajiao is Sichuan’s signature pepper, which is famous for being both spicy and mouth-numbing.  I’m serious, you lose some feeling in your lips for an odd tingling sensation and water does not help AT ALL.  Despite that, it’s actually pretty darn tasty.

Another staple is a basic beef noodle soup.  When in Taiwan, I practically ate this every day, whether fresh from the corner restaurant or from a ramen-noodle soup bowl.  This one has cabbage and spices of some kind.

My favorite thing about all of this is that they make the noodles fresh.  Like, I order a place of fried noodles and I watch one of the waiters amble over to a work table and start stretching the dough out.  It is quite possibly the best thing ever.

Notable exception: Buddha Sichuan Xiaochi, I am disappoint.  Cold noodles, clearly store bought and uninspiring meat gristle?  You’re not getting my business again, even if the place is cute.

*Not strictly anatomically correct; the fastest way to your heart is through the sternum with a chainsaw.


3 Responses to “Food Friday: Noodle Edition”

  1. Dad September 17, 2011 at 3:18 am #

    It is so satisfying to see that I truly raised my daughter right – my goal in the Navy was to eat my way across the orient, so many restaurants so little time. Remembering that this is a time of learning, you are requested to ask for noodle making lessons once you have established yourself as a regular customer. Excuses on why you did not learn to cook ‘real’ Chinese food will not be accepted when you come home. I am not saying that I will not open the door if you don’t learn to cook good/real Chinese food before you return home, but plan on getting my second or third most comfortable bed when I die. I am willing to ship bags of Toll House CC that you can turn into cooking and earn the favor of those fine Chinese cooks.

  2. Karen Luksich September 17, 2011 at 8:49 am #

    I am drooling. I want some of that pepper. The food in the photos look wonderful.

  3. Dani September 17, 2011 at 2:40 pm #

    1. I agree whole-heartedly with your dad.
    2. Great point there with the chainsaw. I’m so glad we’re friends.

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