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DanDan Noodles @ Old Shanghai, SF

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  • Melanie Wong Apr 23, 2002 10:15 PM
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The search for dandan noodles brought me back to try the soupy style that looked so good my first time here. The version here is a big bowl for $6 with thin chewy noodles. The garlicky broth has a hint of sweetness and is slightly thickened. Some red oil floats on top, but it’s not nearly as fiery as a traditional style. I didn’t see any peanuts, but there’s a background taste of roasted nuts (sesame, peanuts?) and an almost creamy richness on the palate that a spoonful of nut paste in the sauce/soup might lend. There’s also fermented brown bean paste in the mix and red chili sauce. The chopped pork has a chewy texture with bits of fat. The bowl was topped with minced scallions but no cucumbers. Again, the flavor of Sichuan peppercorns was almost nonexistent and the smoky nuance of dried Sichuan chili peppers was also absent. This serving was big enough to satisfy two light eaters people for lunch. A nice meal, but not the dandan noodles of my dreams.

On another visit I tried the small steamed dumplings with crab as a follow-up to my first encounter with the very good xiao long bao (aka “soup dumplings”) here. This version has a filling of pork with crab meat and roe, eight for $11. The wrappers are still tender and thin and the juices, flavorful and sweet. This time I had only three gushers, one dribbler, and four drywells. At that price, I’d expect a higher hit rate.

This was the venue for a Chowhound dinner a few months ago that passed unreported. What other dishes do you like at Old Shanghai?

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  1. I'd agree with your assessment that the dan dan mian is lacking that critical numbing experience and I missed the chopped peanuts, but I wonder if that is a regional variant on a sichuanese dish. Actually, the broth reminded me somewhat of Korean Jjam Pong (minus the seafood and vegetables).

    We've had the pork xiao long bao at Old Shanghai 4 or 5 times, and every time they have all come out soupy and intact. We usually go on weekends for lunch - I wonder if there is a different chef. I also like their pan-fried buns (sheng jian bao) - these are mini steamed meat buns, but cooked by a combination of frying and steaming. They have delicious crusty bottoms, but soft fluffy tops. They are good as part of a Northern-style breakfast, with soybean milk and crullers. A nice counterpoint to the hot soy milk is cold tofu (liang ban doufu) - soft tofu and preserved eggs, topped with thick soysauce, cilantro and dried pork shreds. Really simple, homey food.

    I'm curious too to hear how they do with dinner

    1 Reply
    1. re: chibi

      Samo had posted that the dan dan mian he had in Chengdu were devoid of peanuts. I still thought this dish was tasty, just not numbing.

      I will have to try the weekend for xlb if that will increase the batting average of having them all intact and gushing. I would like to try the sjb too, at least now I know what to ask for, as the menu hasn't been fully translated yet.

      Ok, so who's had dinner here?