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Jan 6, 2003 07:39 PM

question on dan-dan noodles

  • w

This afternoon I had lunch at a small Szechuan restaurant in Palo Alto, and ordered their dan-dan noodles, expecting to get the fiery noodles with chili oil, preserved vegetable, and pork that I have a) had at other Szechuan restaurants around here and b) have made myself from a Szechuan cookbook. Instead, I got noodles with peanut sauce. Tasty, but not at all what I expected. I asked my waitress (also an owner, I believe), and she said there were two kinds of dan dan noodles, but that this is the one that they regularly serve unless people specify the other (she said what the other was, and it sounded like dan-dan mien, but it was in Chinese and I couldn't really catch it that well).

So, my question is whether this should have surprised me--both that this peanut-sauce variety exists (and would be served to me), and that there are in fact two kinds of (completely unrelated) dan-dan noodles? I would have thought that if a restaurant listed dan-dan noodles and that's what I ordered, I would have gotten the other. But maybe since I'm not Asian, they assumed I didn't want the authentic kind? I'm confused and would appreciate insight!

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  1. m
    Melanie Wong

    Around here, the style with peanut sauce seems to be more common, and I've learned to ask before ordering. Here's a link to an earlier discussion which gets into a discussion of regional offerings and the original in Chengdu.


    1. yep, there are different kinds of dan dan mien. (mien just means egg noodles). I live in Hong Kong (but grew up in SF) and even here, you never really know what kind to expect. There's a soupy variety and a "dry" kind, but even then there are variations, some with peanut/sesame paste, others with more chillies. I think sometimes they tone things down here because Hong Kong people tend not to like very spicy foods.
      I unfortunately didn't try dan dan mein when travelling in Sichuan province so don't know all the more authentic regional variations.

      1. I've eaten alot of dandan mian in Sichuan (yum!) and never encountered a peanut or speck of peanut or sesame paste. It's usually ground pork, Sichuan pickles, maybe some dried shrimp, garlic ginger and of course plenty of ma-la with a bit of "soup" at the bottom of the (small) bowl.
        I think the question is: where did the peanuty variation originate?

        3 Replies
        1. re: foodfirst
          Caitlin McGrath

          I don't know, but it may be a west coast thing, as Sichuan restaurants in New York serve the dan dan you're describing and not something with peanuts or sesame.

          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

            Yes --- that and just a general confusion on the part of restaurant owners, perhaps? (how many Sichuan restaurant owners in the US are actually from Sichuan?). There are peanuty noodles in Sichuan -- but they are "liang mian" (cold noodles). And they are lovely.

            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

              I'm not sure if this is correct but I think that the peanut sauce dan dan mian is a Shanghainese variation on the original.