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Mar 25, 2007 12:35 AM

Hand Pull Noodles @Imperial Tea, Epicurious Garden [Berkeley]

I've seen mostly posts on the tea, but they have quite good food at Imperial Tea at the Epicurious Garden in Berkeley. Today Jing and I had the hand pull noodles, which we both enjoyed a lot. I'm not positive they were actually hand pulled, but I'm pretty sure they were at least hand made. Had a nice chewy bite to them and a sauce that complemented but did not overwhelm the noodles. They asked if we wanted it spicy, and we said no. They have a version with spicy beef, but we just got the plain one.

We had the green onion pancake (cong youbing) as well, which was fine, but nothing special. Last time we were there, we snacked on some steamed buns (baozi). I had the vegetable buns which were fresh and nicely flavored.

I liked all the food I've tried so far, but the hand pulled noodles is the dish I'd go back for.

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  1. The dumplings were also very good...we had both the vegetarian and the meat ones (I think they came in a green tea broth). Service was slow because they literally made the dumplings when we ordered them!

    1. I'd almost bet the farm they were not hand-pulled. Knowing IT's M.O., if they had someone hand pulling them, he wouldn't be hidden under a bushel, but would be doing it in a front window (do they have a window?)

      5 Replies
      1. re: Gary Soup

        Does anyone know if the Ferry Building Imperial Teas serve this too?

        1. re: Gary Soup

          I'll take that bet. They're called hand pulled noodles, and I've watched them pull the noodles by hand in the open kitchen. Imperial is good about making stuff, by hand, to order - the potstickers are folded and steamed to order as well.

          I prefer the spicy beef noodles to the hand pulled.

          1. re: Morton the Mousse

            I haven't been to the Berkeley Imperial Tea (I've tended to avoid Berkeley after eating too much tear gas during the FSM & TWLF days) but you are actually supporting my point. IF Roy Fong is going to bring you hand pulled noodles, he's going to be sure you see the performance, because he knows style sells better than substance in certain contexts. But if the kitchen is open, and they are hand-made to order, why was the OP unsure of whether he was actually getting hand-pulled?

            I'm personally not a fan of hand pulled noodles either, because the spectacle usually demands that they be pulled too thin for my tastes, and typically they are so soft at that stage that they have no "bite" to them. I think they have to breathe for a few hours before they can be cooked al dente.

            1. re: Gary Soup

              For the record, I'm not positive exactly how the noodles were prepared because, while the noodles were being prepared, I was outside in the garden playing with my three year old daughter. Please don't take this as evidence for or against genuine hand pulled. I'll find out for sure next time.

          2. re: Gary Soup

            I guess Gary needs to hand over the keys to the farm. I went back today with my camera. Here are the photos of a woman there pulling the noodles by hand.

          3. Just discovered this place for dinner last night (why did I not know about it?!). Hand-pulled noodles w/ spicy greens--delicious. And a very nice pork bun for a starter. A very-good and not-pricey dinner. It's now on our list!

            1 Reply
            1. re: sundeck sue

              Since this thread has reappeared, I'll backtrack and comment on some noodle semantics. The woman in the picture is making "po che mian" (which approxlmates to "rough torn noodles") which I happen to love. "Hand pulled" usually refers to the technique of pulling them in mid-air at arm's length which requires greater acrobatics.