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Published: November 16th 2006
Chinese cuisine includes many different types of noodles, called "mian" in Chinese. "Mian" refers to noodles made from wheat while "fen" refers to noodles made from rice in China.Unlike many western noodles and pastas, Chinese wheat noodles are usually made from salted dough and as such, do not require the salting of its cooking liquid. Furthermore, Chinese noodles also cook very fast, usually requiring 3 to 5 minutes to reach an al dente state. In fact, some noodles take less than a minute to finish cooking.
Nomenclature of the noodles is difficult due to the vast spectrum available and the many dialects of Chinese used to name them. Different noodles can be found in different regions of China because of different local preferences. Famous regional noodles include hand-pulled noodles (la mian) from Lanzhou, knife-sliced noodles (dao xiao mian) from Shanxi province, Dan dan noodles from Sichuan and Za Jiang noodles from Beijing, Yi noodle from Guangdong.
"Re gan mian" is a typical breakfast fare of Wuhan, the capital of the Hubei province in central China. It is made of hand-pulled, wheat-based noodles over which soy sauce, sesame paste, pickled vegetables, chopped chives and rice vinegar are
added. The noodles are mixed with the added ingredients just before consumption. It is very popular and is usually sold in bowls in breakfast restaurants or in boxes on carts along the streets of Wuhan.
"Dan dan mian" is a classic dish of Chinese Sichuan cuisine. It consists of a spicy ground peanut and sesame sauce over noodles, and often served with cold sliced cucumbers. The same sauce is frequently served over poached chicken (called Bong Bong Chicken), and on steamed, meat-filled dumplings in another Sichuan dish called Suan La Chow Show. The name is also used for another dish that eschews ground peanuts.
"La mian" is a Chinese dish of hand-made noodles, usually served in a beef or mutton-flavored soup, but sometimes stir-fried and served with a tomato-based sauce. Literally, "La" means to pull or stretch, while "mian" means noodle. The process of taking a lump of dough and repeatedly stretching it to produce a single very long noodle is quite an art. Small restaurants serving Lanzhou-style lamian are very common in eastern Chinese cities. They tend to serve a variety of cheap meals, with a choice of lamian, 'daoxiaomian' (knife-sliced noodles) and perhaps Xi'an-style 'paomo' (steamed
bun in soup). Noodles may be served with beef or mutton, either in soup or stir-fried. The majority of these lamian restaurants is owned by Hui ethnicity families from Gansu, Qinghai and Xinjiang, and serves only halal food (thus no pork dishes). The Japanese term "ramen" uses the same characters for its kanji form, and the original meaning was approximately the same as the Chinese. However, in English, the term 'ramen' usually refers to store-bought dried instant noodles, while 'la mian' refers to the freshly-made hand-stretched noodles.
Among all special Chinese noodles, the most unique type ought to be "yi mian" or "yi noodle". Yi noodle can be served dry or with soup. It is a creation of a scholar Yi Bingshou of Guangdong province in Qing Dynasty. The noodle is special because it does not require mixing of flour with water but with beaten eggs. After a process of boiling, cooling, drying and frying, it becomes the semi-finished product. Before using, cook them in boiling water briefly, then drain. The noodles can then be added to stir-fries, soups, or salads.
Listed below are some of the best noodle restaurants in Beijing, where you can enjoy different tasty
Chinese noodles: Jin Yang Restaurant, Baiguang Road
The Jin Yang restaurant serves genuine Shanxi cuisine including the famous Shangxi knife-sliced noodles.
Recommended noodles: knife-sliced noodles; noodles with gravy; cat-ears noodle (a kind of Chinese noodle shaped like cat ears).
Other recommendations: crispy fried duck, Shanxi fried pork
Price: about RMB 65/ person
10 Baiguang Road, Xuanwu, Beijing Masterkong Private Beef Noodle Restaurant
This restaurant is a Chinese style fast-food chain store. It serves Taiwan style food including beef noodles. "Masterkong" is a famous food manufacturer which produces food like instant noodles, snacks and drinks etc.
Recommended noodles: beef noodles
Other recommendations: mango ice slush
Price: about RMB 35/ person
B2 New Zhongguan Building, 19 Zhongguancun Avenue, Haidian, Beijing Xibei Oat Flour Restaurant, Xicui Road
Noodles in the Xibei Restaurant are called "you mian" in Chinese which are made of a kind of special oat four of inner Mongalia.
Recommended noodle: oat flour noodles
Other recommendations: shish kebab; big mixed-vegetable salads; private-recipe fish
Price: about RMB 65/ person
4 Wanshou Road, Haidian, Beijing Haiwanju, Panjiayuan
This restaurant of typical Chinese style serves traditional food in a lively Old Beijing atmosphere.
Waiters shout across the room to announce customers arriving and leaving and there is a great variety of traditional Beijing food available on the menus including the "za jiang mian" (noodles with black bean sauce).
Recommended noodle: noodles with black bean sauce
Other recommendations: Beijing style sausage; boiled hawthorn with syrup and honey
Price: about RMB 30/ person
36 East Songyu Neighborhood, Chaoyang, Beijing Huguang Guild Hall
There are a restaurant, a theater and a museum in the Huguang Guild Hall which has a history of more than 200 years. The restaurant in Huguang Guild Hall serves Hubei cuisine including "re gan mian".
Recommended noodle: "re gan mian"
Other recommendations: tou fu skin; stir-fried pork; fish fillet in sour soup
Price: about RMB 40/ person
3 Hufang Road, Xuanwu, Beijing Noodle Loft
The Noodle Loft's interior is ultra-modern in orange and gray, with a large open kitchen featuring giant woks and steamers. An English menu makes ordering easy. The highlight here is the "yi gen mian" which refers to a very long and thin noodle (usually several meters long) to serve a full bowl of noodle dish.
Recommended noodles: "yi gen mian", knife-sliced noodles
Other recommendations: fried pork meat; vinegar drink.
Price: about RMB 60/ person
20 Xidawang Road, Chaoyang, Beijing Noodle Loft
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