Brrrr, fall is upon us, daytime temperatures have finally become pleasant, but comes the evening, and a cold chill starts creeping in. To regain a little bit of warmth, let’s go for some noodle soup at Yao Lanzhou Noodle House 姚家蘭州麵, which comes recommended by my dear guide 雄好呷.
If you’re familiar with Lanzhou style noodles, then you may have already guessed what’s in store for you, but first, a little bit of geography, to see how far the chef of the establishment travelled to learn and hone his craft.
Located Northwest China (but really mid-north), Lanzhou city is the capital of the Gansu province. The city certainly has a lot more going than its noodles, but their culinary speciality is so far the only thing I’ve heard it associated with.
Who says Yanzhou noodles, means hand-pulled noodles, and at Yao Noodle House, the chef hand-pulls each portion of noodles to order, a mini-show that you can peak at through the glass window separating the kitchen from the first floor dining room. Obviously, this means that you’ll have to wait a little longer than at your usual noodle shop, and pay a little more, but it is all worth it.
Tucked in a residential alley, Yao Noodle House welcomes you in a tiny dining room on the first floor, which if full, the old lady manning the service will direct you to the second floor. As you’re seated, you’ll be handed a menu and pencil to check what you want to eat (oops, forgot to take a picture!). The main dishes consists of noodles only, and plates of meat or blanched vegetables can be added as well.
If you choose to get noodles without the soup, i.e. whatever ends in 拌麵 which means “toss noodles” because you’ll have to mix the sauce and noodles together in absence of the soup, do know that you’ll still be served a small bowl of soup on the side, which I enjoy to finish my meal. Anything on the menu ending with 拉麵 will by default mean noodles served in the soup.
For vegetarians, no need to ponder on the menu since the zhajiang noodle 醡醬麵 is the sole option. Carnivores, on the other hand, have more choices with chicken, pork or beef. The two chicken noodles options are both spicy. I’ve never had the “spicy chicken” 辣雞拌麵, but did get to eat the “snow red spicy chicken” 雪紅辣雞拌麵 which left me all fuzzy inside from the heat of their delicate hot peppers. If in the mood for beef, you can get either the beef noodles 牛肉拌麵/拉麵 where the cuts will mainly consists of lean meat, or for something chewier, get the beef muscles/tendons 牛筋拌麵/拉麵. Pork-wise, there is the spare ribs noodles 排骨拌麵/拉麵, pork knuckles 豬腳拌麵/拉麵, or pork muscle/tendon 豬筋肉拌麵, the latter only available in the dry noodle version.
I know muscles/tendons is a horrible and unappetizing translation, but they manage to cook the meat in a way that it comes out tender, so you don’t have to chew your piece of meat to death. If I come up with a better translation in the future, be sure that I’ll be updating this post.
The noodle in itself can be described with the Taiwanese adjective Q, meaning that it has the right degree of chewiness and a good bite at the same time. If this Q texture still has you perplexed, then head to Yao Noodle House and experience it for yourself. Do it! Now!
Bowls comes in small 小 and large 大 size, but don’t overestimate your appetite because their small bowl is actually pretty filling. Even in a state of extreme hunger, a small bowl has always managed to leave me satisfyingly satiated.
All in all, I very much approve of this recommendation from my food guidebook, everything from the noodles, broth, and meat was spot on.
To go along with the noodles, you can get a plate of veggie of the day 湯青菜, quickly cooked in hot water, and voilà, it’s as simple as that. For extra meat, plates of pork/beef meat/muscles are also available. You can also go browse the selection of cold small plates situated on your right as you go towards the kitchen, and pick whatever fancies you, this will get added to your bill afterwards.
Near the kitchen in the back of the first floor, a big bowl of complimentary pickled mustard greens 酸菜 sits on the counter, right above the chef’s workstation, you’re free to help yourself to as much as you’d like.
Intrigued by this hand-pulled noodle making, I searched online for some videos, here’s one where we can see a cook working the dough from start to finish:
and then, a do-it-yourself video from @tinyurbankitchn
Ça commence à cailler à Taïwan! On s’attend à de la chaleur, de l’humidité et du soleil qui cogne, mais avec l’arrivée de l’automne, les températures s’adoucissent, autant au nord qu’au sud de l’île. Il devient donc plutôt plaisant de se balader en journée, mais un petit cachemire est presque de rigueur pour ne pas attrapper froid en soirée, ce qui serait bien dommage! Atchoum!
Pour mieux aborder ces frisquettes soirées, quoi de mieux qu’un bon bol de soupe aux pâtes fraîches? Et pas n’importe quelle pâtes puisque l’addresse que je vous recommande, le Yao Lanzhou Noodle House, est spécialisé dans pâtes étirées style Lanzhou. Le chef de l’établissement s’est formé en Chine continentale dans la ville de Lanzhou même, pour maîtriser cet art d’étirer les pâtes à la main, un vrai spectacle qui met en appétit.
Les pâtes sont préparées sur commande, ce qui garanti une qualité sans égales. Agrémentées de poulet, porc ou bœuf, vous trouverez forcément votre bonheur, et pour les végétariens il y a le zhajiang noodle 醡醬麵. Des petits entremets froids sont égalements disponibles, ainsi que le suān cài 酸菜, des feuilles de moutardes salées (comme la choucroute) et émincées.
Si à tous hasard, vous êtes un lecteur/lectrice parisien(ne), sachez que Yu Zhou, l’auteur de La Baguette et La Fourchette, recommande Les Pâtes Vivantes à Paris, une addresse qui prépare des pâtes fraîches étirées à la main. Comme quoi, pas besoin de faire des kilomètres pour goûter à ces fameuses pâtes!
Name: Yao Lanzhou Noodle House 姚家蘭州麵
Additional Reviews+Photos: blogspot/lincass, pixnet/jessie0426
Address: Lane 176 No. 12, Cīngnián 1st Rd, Xinxing District Kaohsiung City (高雄市新興區青年一路176巷12號)
Menu: Chinese only, so if the pointers in the post are not enough, give Pleco some thought
Business hours: 11:00-14:00, 17:00-21:00, closed on the second Thursday of each month