Thursday, August 30, 2012

Best Ever Chinese Dumplings

Before picking up the wedding dresses, we made a short stop in Chinatown last last Thursday to grab some lunch. It was at a place called Lan Zhou Noodles. Lan zhou is a province in China that's renowned for its  - not surprisingly - hand-pulled noodles.

It was a hole-in-the-wall diner with two tables facing the window to people watch, and some benches along the wall for quick dine-ins. We grabbed two stools facing the tiled wall.

Since hubby is a huge fan of potstickers, we ordered a plate of those. It's only $2 for eight of these babies, which could fully be my lunch and then some. For a dozen, it's $3.

They came so promptly that I didn't even have time to watch the chef make the handpulled noodles by rounding out the dough and pounding it out on the board. I wanted to take a picture of him, but hubby stopped me =( out of embarrassment (hey I need to learn!).

The dumplings were also all handmade by another worker. You can see all of them make it outside the kitchen. They were pork and chive dumplings - actually, let me rephrase that - they were the BEST dumplings I've ever had. Yes, this includes years of mom-and-dad dumpling making sundays with the best ingredients and hand-grown chives.

At first bite, you wonder whether you've hit dumpling euphoria, because the outside skin is fried to a perfect crisp, and the inside tastes like a xiao long bao with the juices rolling into your mouth. Then you're filled with a mouthful of chewy and tender pork and chives. I know, even for me, an ethic Chinese-Muslim (gasp! betcha didn't know that) who is not supposed to eat pork, loved this dish.

The noodles came like 2 min after we started digging in. We ordered the beef tendon hand-pulled noodles that came with floating pieces of bak choy.

The noodles were a delight - very al dente and chewy, giving your mouth a good exercise. The broth is rich and doesn't taste pull of msg like most of the other dishes in Chinatown. The bak choy is a good balance between the mildly salty broth and the chewy noodles, adding a bit of colour and nutrition to the dish.

The only thing I didn't like is the tenders (unfortunately). They were a little too tough for my liking. I would have rather preferred sometime more melt-in-your mouth.

Another side dish I liked is the salted pickled veggies at the side, which was at once refreshing and added some flavor to the noodles. I can't comment on the sanitary-ness of them because it seems like its home-made and put into a plastic container with a common-usage spoon, but I really liked its marinated taste.

While we were eating, hubby pointed out to something that struck us both as odd. On the glass door leading to the sidewalk, there was a sign plastered in red that said "glass". Well, I suppose it's to help people not bump into it if the glass is too shiny, but c'mon, it's inside a doorframe for goodness sakes.

Oh yes, and the best part about this meal? It's only $7. Ridiculously cheap, right?

If you happen to fall in love with the dumplings like I did, you can also opt to purchase a bag of 50 frozen ones for $8.50.

Lan Zhou Noodles

$ (should be half a $ actually)
**** (4/5)
Kids-friendly (at least not during peak hours)

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