|Xu Lao Ba Yuan Zi Noodles
|6am - 8:30pm|
|90-1 Xinnan Rd., Wuhou District|
|028 8544 5886|
|028 8541 5963|
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Susan Johnson (more chengdu)|
This noodle joint on Xin Nan Road is right around the corner from the Number Seven Middle School, the most reputable in the city. At lunchtime and after school lets out, the blue and white uniforms of the privileged post-90’s crowd swarm the place, and the staff is quite adept at getting customers seated and served quickly. The all-business hostess takes orders, calls them back to the kitchen, wipes tables, handles cash, and calls out “Have a seat!” to passersby.
The menu board is divided into spicy (hong wei) and not spicy (bai wei) and has a good selection of fresh wheat noodles in different preparations as well as jiaozi and chao shou. Knife-shaved noodles and rice noodles are also available. The most popular noodle flavors seem to be guai wei mian, or ‘strange flavor’ noodles, and cui shao mian, a spicy dry mixed noodle. If you ask for water they will bring you a little bowl of noodle cooking water to drink.
Noodle restaurants often have some kind of vegetable, which is not on the menu, but is served cooked in the noodle water. Sometimes it’s gratis, but usually they charge 1 or 2RMB. If you are lucky, you will get pea shoots or water spinach; if not, limp pieces of lettuce. Here the vegetable turns out to be cabbage, which may not sound appealing, but it does go very nicely with the rich and spicy noodles.
The strange flavor noodles came from the spicy section of the menu, but they are not very hot. They have peanuts, mushrooms, some kind of dried seafood, and are topped with tender pieces of pork. The flavor is great, really complex, and a little sweet. The soup is oily, but delicious. The eel noodles (shan yu mian) are a little hotter and have a faint tingle of numbing Sichuan pepper. There are three pieces of eel in the noodles, which is generous for a one-liang serving.
The restaurant is small and popular enough that diners will often find themselves sharing a table with other customers, and before our food arrives a guy sits opposite us. He’s from Tianjin. He thinks the food at this place is great. He orders three one-liang servings: knife-shaved beef noodles (dao shao niu rou mian), scrap sauce noodles (qing tang za jiang mian), and chicken entrails noodles (ji za mian). The ragged-edged, knife shaved beef noodles looked gorgeous and had good-sized chunks of beef on top. The portions here are really quite impressive considering the cost. The scraps of chicken innards on top of his ji za mian looked so fresh, I made a mental note to order them next time.
One liang servings of noodles are all 3.5RMB. Vegetables add 1RMB onto the cost per bowl.