Lan Zhou Zheng Zong La Mian –Interesting Chinese Muslim Hand Pulled Noodles

Lan Zhou Zheng Zong La Mian (兰州正宗牛肉拉面 ) was a place we happened to just stop by when I was in Shanghai, my friend and I were looking for something quick to eat by his apartment and we stopped by this place because it looked interesting and it was really close to his apartment.   It was a run down little shop that had lots of pictures inside with all of their dishes.

I’m not sure where the guys who ran the place were from, but I’m pretty sure they weren’t Han Chinese as they looked sort of Chinese, but were darker in complexion and looked more Central Asian. They also spoke a very strange dialect that I’ve never heard before and were Muslim.

The menu read like a typical Lan Zhou type noodle soup shop, but the spicing was way different than normal Chinese spicing.

Here’s what we got:

Red Braised Beef Noodle Soup (Hong Shao Niu Rou Mian):

The noodles were freshly hand-pulled and had a very good al dente texture.  The broth and the meat were way different in the way they spiced them.  They had a lot of different spices in them including cumin, it really didn’t even taste Chinese; the flavor was much more almost Middle Eastern or Central Asian.  It was very interesting.  I thought it was a bit too salty and the beef wasn’t quite as tender as it should be, but overall it was reasonably tasty.  I would say that I prefer the regular style though all things being equal. 7.5/10

Stir Fried Knife Cut Noodles (Chao Dao Shao Mian):

My friend got this dish, it was stir fried knife cut noodles.  The noodles were very good again and were cut a bit on the thick side, but I liked them that way.  The sauce was exactly the same sauce that was in the beef noodle soup I had.  It was a bit on the salty side as well, but I thought it was a bit better than my beef noodle soup. 7.75/10

Scrambled Egg With Tomato (Xi Hong Shi Chao Ji Dan):

This is a pretty typical dish in Taiwan, but they probably make it in China as well.  We ordered it because we both like the dish.  The preparation was similar to normal, but the spicing was quite a bit different again utilizing the same spices that were in the other two dishes.  This was probably the best dish of the three, doesn’t look like much, but it was good.

Overall, it wasn’t amazing, but it was pretty good.  It was definitely interesting as it was unlike any noodle place I’ve ever been to.  I forgot what the address was.

Xin Pin Xiang Zhou Mian Dian – Random Noodle Shop with No English Name in Bowrington Road Market

新品香粥麵店 (Xin Pin Xiang Zhou Mian Dian) has no English name, in Chinese it literally translates to “new stuff fragrant congee noodle shop”.  It is located in Wan Chai in the Bowrington Road Market.  Bowrington Road Market is a very cool open air market with lots a vendors selling meat, fruits, seafood and other stuff.  It also has an indoor section that has an awesome cooked food court (see my post on Wai Kee).

It’s a small shop that is pretty run down with maybe 6-7 tables.  It was our first meal after we had gotten to Hong Kong and we ate here around 8am in the morning. They do not speak English and none of the menus are in English, in fact I even had a really hard time understanding their Mandarin because they had such a heavy Cantonese accent.  The service is quick, efficient and brisk.  It’s really the type of places that people come in to get a quick meal and that’s it.

Here’s what we got:

Beef Brisket Noodle Soup (Niu Nan Mian):

This was pretty good, not the best version I’ve had in HK, but still tasty.  The meat itself was quite good, very tender and flavorful.  The noodles were good as well, good chewy al dente texture with good flavor.  The broth itself was also quite flavorful and not too salty, however it’s downfall that it was too heavy, it was much heavier / oily than it should be.  The vegetables were fine, but pretty standard. 8/10 (8.25/10 for the beef and noodles, 7.5/10 for the broth)

Zha Liang (Fried Crueller Wrapped in Rice Noodle):

Zha liang is a favorite dim sum food of mine.  It is a you tiao (fried crueller) wrapped in a white rice noodle that is sprinkled in sesame seeds with a light sweet soy sauce.  The version here would be good except it wasn’t that fresh, so the you tiao was a bit soggy and the rice noodle had also gotten soggy.  The flavors were good, unfortunately it was just not fresh. 7.5/10

Overall, it’s not the best place I’ve been to in HK, but it was pretty decent.  Their noodle soups would be considered awesome in NY, but again we’re talking HK not NY, so the bar is pretty high.  Also, it is extremely cheap, you can eat here for $4-5 USD and you’ll be full.

253 Wanchai Road, Wan Chai

Din Tai Fung – Great Xiao Long Bao (Soup Dumplings) in Taipei

Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐) is a Taiwanese chain of xiao long bao (soup dumplings) restaurants that are probably the most famous in the world and among the best in terms of quality.

They have multiple branches in Taiwan, Japan, China, Singapore, Indonesia, Korea, Los Angeles, Malaysia and Sydney.  I’ve always been surprised that they have been able to maintain their quality given the number of branches they have.  Normally, restaurants that branch out like that tend to lose quality over time.  I’ve been to the Fu Xing branch in Taipei, the Paragon branch in Singapore and Arcadia branch in LA and all of them are quite good (if anyone at DTF is listening…please open one in NY, you’ll crush the competition).

This review is for the Fu Xing branch in Taipei.  The restaurant is located in the basement food court at the SOGO department store on Zhong Xiao East Road.  There is always a fairly large wait and the waiter comes out gives you a number and a menu where you pre-order what you want, which is great because it’s extremely efficient.  The restaurant is reasonably nice and the service is fine.

We only got two things, but multiple orders of it because we wanted to stick to the classics:

Xiao Long Bao (Soup Dumplings):

The dumpling skins at Din Tai Fung are the best I’ve ever had; they are very thin and delicate, more so than any other version I’ve ever had.  That is the where I think DTF really excels.  They are among the best dumpling skins I’ve ever had. The filling is very good as well (the best I’ve ever had though goes to Fu Sing Shark Fin Restaurant in Hong Kong), the meat is great and the soup is light and not greasy at all.  Just an all around great soup dumpling. 8.75/10 (9.25/10 for the skins, 8.5/10 for the filling)

Beef Noodle Soup (Hong Shao Niu Rou Mian):

Beef noodle soup is one of the national dishes of Taiwan and DTF makes a pretty respectable version.  Beef noodle soup in Taiwan is sort of similar to ramen in Japan in that there are tons of places that specialize in it and people tend to get pretty picky about it.  I may not be as picky as I once was about it because in the NY a really good version doesn’t exist, so it’s rare that I get to have a really good bowl of it.  The version here wasn’t the best I’ve ever had in Taiwan, but it was very good.  The beef was excellent, very tender and flavorful.  The noodles were excellent as well, al dente with good flavor.  The broth was very good, not overly salty, that great hong shao (red cooking) flavor although I prefer mine a bit spicier and flavorful (the best versions I’ve had have a slightly deeper flavor).  Overall though it’s a very good bowl of beef noodle soup. 8.5/10

DTF is very famous and famous for a good reason.  If you are in an area with a DTF, I highly suggest going.

Fuxing Branch
B2F., No.300, Sec. 3, Zhongxiao E. Rd.
Da-an District, Taipei City 10654, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
(B2F of Fuxing SOGO Department Store)
phone: 886-2-8772-0528