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Jan 14, 2005 12:12 PM

cold sesame noodles

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I still dream about the cold sesame noodles from the Hwa Yuan Szechuan Inn that used to be at 40 E. Broadway. Anyone know of anything just like them?

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  1. Well what were they like? What made them unique?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Nina W.

      The Times published one article on cooking with tea, in 1989, which made reference to sesame noodles, but only in a sentence: "In her book 'Chinese Cooking for the American Kitchen' (Atheneum, 1976), Karen Lee includes a recipe for stir-fried beef with black tea. She also uses steeped black tea in sesame paste when making sesame noodles as well as in marinades for barbecuing." That article didn't include a noodle recipe.

      In 1995, however, the Times did publish a sesame noodle recipe, one that doesn't include tea:

      "Sesame Noodles And Broccoli

      1 1/2 pounds (24 ounces) whole broccoli or 14 ounces ready-cut broccoli florettes (5 to 6 cups)
      2 cloves garlic
      1/2-inch piece of fresh or frozen ginger
      2 tablespoons toasted or Asian sesame paste
      4 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy
      1 teaspoon sugar
      1 teaspoon toasted or Asian sesame oil
      1 teaspoon garlic chili paste
      3 tablespoons rice vinegar
      3 tablespoons dry sherry
      8 ounces Chinese flat noodles or
      fresh Italian linguine
      A few sprigs cilantro to yield 3 tablespoons chopped
      2 scallions.

      1. Bring water to a boil for the noodles in a covered pot.

      2. Cut tough stems from the whole broccoli. Cut the broccoli florettes into bite-size pieces, and steam over a little hot water for about 5 minutes, until tender but still crisp.

      3. Turn a food processor on, and with the motor running, put the garlic and ginger through the feed tube and process until minced. Add the sesame paste, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, chili paste, vinegar and sherry, and process.

      4. Drain the broccoli. Cook the noodles according to package directions.

      5. Wash and dry the cilantro and chop. Wash and slice the scallions.

      6. Pour the sesame dressing into a serving bowl; stir in the broccoli. When the noodles are cooked, stir in with the scallions and top with the cilantro.

      Yield: 2 servings.

      Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 665 calories, 15 grams fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 695 milligrams sodium, 25 grams protein, 105 grams carbohydrate."

      So, maybe the earlier poster got them mixed up, or combined them? Regardless, the tea idea sounds tasty.

      1. re: Nina W.

        Can you believe that its been 41 years since Shorty Tang hung up his wok and departed for foodie's heaven?
        However.... for all you Hwa Yuan lovers, the internet has provided an eight year old posting by Arthur Scwartz that includes a recipe for CNwSS. I hope that this recipe possibly makes someone mindful of the good old days at 40 East Broadway in Chinatown. Zabar

      2. I saw the title of your posting and my first thought was "Hwa Yuan Szechuan Inn." That place provided my introduction to Chinatown when I was just out of college and we always ordered the sesame noodles - I think just about everyone ordered the noodles! I've never seen these noodles replicated anywhere, to the extent that I rarely order this now knowing I'll be disappointed.

        What made them so special? Hard to put into words. There was a bite to the sauce, I assume from red chili pepper. While the sauce did have a peanuty taste, this was not the predominant flavor, as you'll find in so many average Chinese restaurants. The sauce was deeper and multi-layered.

        Any other comments?

        5 Replies
        1. re: bookistan

          There was a place called Tang's ( I believe), on the Bowery near Canal in the late 70's, early 80's. A woman was the chef. The best cold noodles with sesame in the universe were there.

          Perhaps a decade later, the New York Times published a recipe for cold noodles, which I tried. They were UNBELIEVABLY GREAT and the secret ingredient seemed to me to be the black tea. I still have it somewhere. It seemed to exactly replicate those sublime cold noodles.
          The amount of peanut sauce ( or whether there is any) makes a huge difference.

          We were so crazy about cold noodles with sesame that we once went to about 6 places and only ordered that dish in our taste-off to confirm the best ones.

          1. re: Peacenow17

            sounds amazing. could you post the recipe for us?

            1. re: peter carey

              I'll do my best to find the cold noodles and sesame recipe, but it may take awhile. I can't believe I let such a precious document get away from me! I have so many clipped treasure bits, just not enough time to organize them!

              1. re: Peacenow17

                Kindred spirits! Every few years I have that same irresistable craving for great cold sesame noodles, and yes, Tang's Kitchen on the Bowery made the hands-down best version in the universe. Sadly, like so many great Chinatown eateries, Tang's has vanished without a trace.
                A bit of consolation...although not in the same sublime class as Tang's, the Hunan Balcony on 98th & Broadway makes a very respectable cold noodle. The restaurant's been there for 30 years & shows no signs of closing anytime soon.

            2. re: Peacenow17

              I was excited to read that others love cold noodles as much as I do and went to Tang Tang on E 76th St to see/taste what everyone was talking about. I ordered the cold noodles. These are NOT the best cold noodles I've had by any stretch. In fact, I just ate a portion and am feeling a little queazy.

              A place in Chinatown, on Mott Street (I think?) back in the 80's owned by a guy named Chang were, without a doubt, the best. WITHOUT A DOUBT. I don't know the name of the place, I just used to call it "Chang's".

              2nd was a place just North of 6th Ave and Carmine called Sammy's. There was another location maybe on 14th and 6th? The southern most location closed down for a little bit and made a new menu - no more cold noodles! How could they?!?! Had them at the northern location and they were too different, nowhere near as good.

              There's a place near me which is really good, but only if you ask them for the sauce on the side and also request dumpling (ginger) sauce. Use it sparingly, and add equal amounts. This is my favorite right now. The way they usually prepare it, the sauce tastes ok at first, but after a few mouthfuls, it makes me feel ill. Other people seem to like it, so maybe it's just me. Or maybe it's cause when they're eating there with me, I don't let them eat more than 2 mouthfuls. The rest is for me. :) (The last person who got between me and my cold noodles lost an eye). Anyway, I won't name the place here cause it's out of the way for most people but I included this little tidbit to spread CNA (cold noodle awareness) - if the cold noodles arent good the way they are, dumpling sauce will usually make them better, unless it's already in there (some people use this).

              There's another place in Chinatown, I think it's called the Green Tree??? Or something with green in it. The place is famous for its soup dumplings, which I didn't like too much (not a big fan of those anywhere). There are reviews all over the window and under the glass table tops. The noodles were good enough for me to order a 2nd to take home, but the service was pretty lousy. I should not have to BEG for water. And when I finally get it, I shouldn't have to worry that the waiter spat in it because my request to have a free drink with my meal annoyed him. You know? I guess that's a good indication that you're having AUTHENTIC Chinese cuisine though. :)

              Anyway folks, be careful with cold noodles. They're pretty bad for your health. Eat in moderation.

          2. Fried Dumpling on Allen has cold sesame noodles for $1.75 a pop. Cannot relate it to your place, but it is good and the price is right! They may not serve it in the winter though.

            1. Hwa Yuan also made my favorite noodle dish: Noodles with hot brown meat sauce. We tried to find the chef when they closed, supposedly he went to a place in the east forties, but we could never find him...

              1. I know this is a bit late but I've been reading up on hwa yuan cold sesame noodles. The cold sesame noodles by Shorty Tang and Sons at Brooklyn's Saturday Smorgasburg follows the original recipe created by Shorty Tang, the Master Chef at Hwa Yuan Szechuan Inn in the 60s. I have had the reprise edition from his grandsons which is as good as it gets. This would probably be the first time in 30 or so years that the authentic recipe has resurfaced. Jerry Tang, the son of Shorty Tang, is also there and does remember the Hwa Yuan patrons.

                And they have another classic Shorty Tang dish: Noodles with Brown Meat Sauce (Zha jiang mian) which is absolutely mesmerizingly delicious.

                The carriers of the torch: Shorty Tang and Sons

                2 Replies
                1. re: mrmrmrmr

                  Dear "mrmrmrmr"... although I am NOT a Facebooker, I definitely am a Cold Noodles with Sesame Sauce (CNwSS) "freak".
                  I also have my own favorite place to get them these days BUT the current version does NOT even come close to the CNwSS that were served at Hwa Yuan Szechuan Inn on East Broadway... back in the good old days.
                  I would be really grateful if you could "cut and paste" the recipe and post it on this thread? I'm beginning to salivate just dreaming about recreating this wonderful dish in 2012.
                  Happy New Year! Zabar

                  1. re: Zabar

                    The link is dead. Either it expired or he put it there knowing it was dead, just to torture us with sesame noodle cravings. Oh, cruel fate (apologies to Dr. Smith).