#1: Tasty Hand Pulled Noodles: 1 Doyers Street, New York, NY 10038 (map); 212-791-1817 #2: Sheng Wang: 27 Eldridge Street, New York NY 10002 (map); 212-925-0805 #3: Lam Zhou: 144 E Broadway, New York, NY 10002 (map); 212-566-6933
Hand-pulled noodles are so dramatic to watch being made. Starting with one cylindrical rope of dough, a noodle maker pulls and tug on that rope and folds it over his fingers, weaving his hands back and forth as if playing an accordion, each time stretching out the dough so that before long all ten of his fingers hold up progressively thinner strands of one singular, unbroken string of dough.
When I lived in Beijing,hand-pulled noodles were one of my staple foods, along with boiled dumplings and sweet potatoes, those great big golden tubers roasted in oil cans on the side of the road. One day I looked up from my bowl of steaming noodle soup and watched, in awe, as everyone around me slurped so rapidly you could almost hear a symphony of slurps. It was almost as though they were afraid of slowing down. Now why was that, I wondered?
Before long I was slurping just as quickly as anyone. I didn't have much of a choice. Hand-pulled noodles have just a fifteen-minute time frame before they loose their al dente texture. Which is why people were slurping mavens. And why, by extension, you want to find a shop where the noodle strands are as bouncy as they can be.
So we checked out five hand-pulled noodle joints in Manhattan's Chinatown, looking for the best the neighborhood had to offer.
- Food Sing Corp 88
- Lam Zhou
- Sheng Wang
- Super Taste
- Tasty Hand Pulled Noodles
View Hand-Pulled Noodles In Chinatown in a larger map
We were looking for chewy al dente noodles, a flavorful and not-too-salty broth, and well-prepared toppings. Bonus points would go to places offering good accoutrements and seasonings, such as pickles or a house-made spicy sauce to put on top of the noodles.
For the best hand pulled noodles, go to Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles or Sheng Wang. Both restaurants offer you the option of getting thick or thin noodles cooked "firm"; Tasty Hand Pulled Noodle's dough is just a little more chewy, making it the superior choice. (Tasty Hand Pulled Noodles, by the way, also does a stellar rendition of knife-cut noodles.)
However, if we had choose one restaurant, we might well go to Sheng Wang because the restaurant also offers excellent wontons and meat-filled potato balls.
Here's a look at what we slurped:
#1: Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles
The thickest setting of noodles at Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles ($4-6, depending on toppings) are chewy but not at all doughy. A toothsome pleasure. The toppings are nicely prepared: tender meats and tendons, runny fried eggs, and fresh-tasting seafood. And the stir-fried noodles at Tasty Hand-Pulled are just as successful texture-wise, though the seafood noodle dish we tried was under-salted.
Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles: 1 Doyers Street, New York, NY 10038 (map); 212-791-1817
#2: Sheng Wang
The thin noodles at Sheng Wang ($5.50) are chewy and bouncy; the stir-fried knife-cut noodles (shown above) are even better, with their chili and Sichuan peppercorn-infused oil. Pickles and a oily, spicy sauce are provided at the table at Sheng Wang. Pickled mustard greens are a common Chinese noodle topping, and having them tableside was a nice touch.
Sheng Wang: 27 Eldridge Street, New York NY 10002 (map); 212-925-0805
#3: Lam Zhou
Lam Zhou noodles ($3.75-6) came with a surprisingly nuanced soup broth: beefy, with notes of cinnamon and star-anise. The noodles were on the soft side. A hole-in-the-wall joint with just a few tables, the restaurant's noodle-pulling station is right by the cash register, making your dinner an entertaining experience.
Lam Zhou: 144 E Broadway, New York, NY 10002 (map); 212-566-6933
#4: Super Taste
Across the street from Sheng Wang is Super Taste. Their noodles ($3.75-6) were chewy, perfectly al dente. The eel topping we ordered was cooked with care: a little charred on top, with tender flesh. Unfortunately, their house broth tasted soap-y: either from an unrinsed bowl or soup ladle. Whatever the reason, the soapy broth was so off-putting that we were unable to finish our meal.
Super Taste: 26 Eldridge Street, New York NY 10002 (map); 212-625-1198
#5: Food Sing Corp 88
Food Sing Corp 88 ($4-6.50) had the blandest soup broths and soggiest noodles of the 5 restaurants we visited. Regardless of what toppings you ordered, the broths were the same. But it's a shame that the noodles and broth were sub-par, because their toppings were all so good: tender beef tendon, well-cooked duck, and fresh-tasting seafood.
Food Sing Corp 88: 2 East Broadway, New York NY 10038 (map); 212-219-8223