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Sep 17, 2007 07:17 PM

Best Chinese noodles in SF

I will be in SF in 2 weeks what are some recommendations on the best Chinese style noodles in the city?

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  1. There are lots of kinds of noodles. What are you looking for in particular? Wonton noodles, freshly pulled noodles (la mian), fried noodles, deep-fried noodles, chow fun, and the list goes on... :)

    - Jon

    4 Replies
    1. re: Rex914

      Well are there any places in that specialize in noodles (I am guessing there are) Which are the best?

      1. re: irbaboon

        That is like asking what is the best pasta in Italy... There are too many varieties of Chinese noodles and there are just as many places that serve them in SF area.

        You can check out my blog for some different noodle styles in the bay area. In general, Northern Chinese noodles are wheat-based and known for hand-made or knife-shaved styles. Cantonese have crispy style egg noodles as well rice-based chow fun styles. Once you identify which style of noodle, then people can point out which restaurants do them well...

        1. re: irbaboon

          Note that there aren't a lot of Chinese restaurants in San Francisco that actually specialize in noodles. There's Hon's Wun Tun on Kearny St. and the Tung Kee chain in the Peninsula, and a few noted in Tanspace's blog. Rather, most every Chinese restaurant serves noodles, many of them quite well.

          1. re: Chandavkl

            Wow, Hon's Wun Tun, boy I loved that place. Little money with great food. Noodles and dumplings are really worth the visit. Do not let the exterior put you off as it did my wife. I chowed down, wife took nap. I was the winner.

      2. Yeah...that's a tough/wide question given the many variations. Also, add in the fact that at the usual mom and pop places, they might do 1-2 types of noodles very well and the rest might be sub-par, thus making the job of knowing a little bit more specific.

        There are a few "new" places that specialize in pan-Asian noodle like Zao, Long Life Noodle Company (both small chains and not so good) or Noodle Theory in Oakland (v. good reviews, owner/chef) .

        2 Replies
        1. re: ML8000

          Actually, Long Life is the worst. How dare they serve up $$$ lukewarm jook w/hideous accompaniments! If they can't keep their jook warm, who knows how the noodles w/b served. Thought they went out of business! Hon's is way better and so are many other lesser-known or hole-in-the-wall places!

          1. re: Sarah

            The last soup noodle bowl I had at Long Life was really inedible, and I brought that to the attention of the folks working there, even with my full knowledge of the quality of the dishes they can churn out there. But it seems like they don't use MSG, unlike the Tung Kee chain.


        2. Not sure if these are the best, but they are pretty good and other dishes as well-

          Shanghai House- Outer Richmond on Balboa, tiny store front somewhere between 36th and 38th Ave.
          -really good hand cut noodles, like their stir fried dishes and the sweet and sour ribs are good.

          In a neighborhood further out Outer Sunset-
          Old Mandarin Islamic Restaurant- very good northern chinese, love their noodle dishes and lamb dumplings and beef pancakes.
          You can take the MUNI L line and walk over to 42nd Ave.
          3132 Vicente Street
          at 42nd Ave.

          15 Replies
          1. re: Lori SF

            Old Mandarin Islamic Restaurant sound like a winner, is it in the city it's self or in the out lying areas (I am still a bit fuzzy on the geography)

            1. re: irbaboon

              It's in San Francisco but out in the Sunset district towards the ocean. 3132 Vicente St.

              1. re: irbaboon

                Probably a 2 block walk from the L Taraval streetcar line. (The streets are alphabetical out there.)

                1. re: walker

                  Does anyone know if Old Mandarin Islamic Restaurant has knife cut noodles?

                  1. re: gemster

                    Never seen knife cut noodles at Old Mandarin. Had some awesome ones last night at Joy Restaurant in Foster City.

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      Yeah, that's my current go-to place for knife cut noodles in the bay area right now.

                      1. re: gemster

                        I third that was just ther last week. SF lacks this.

                        1. re: Lori SF

                          What is the significance of knife cut noodles? Sounds interesting

                          1. re: poulet_roti

                            What I know is knife cut method is famous from Shan Xi, China. Also called heavy noodling best to enjoy stir fried or heavy soups. Absorbes the sauce, fat and flavor better more hearty and if done right they have a ribbon edge and al dente firmness. I guess you could compare them to pappardelle when you want to have thick noodle to capture the sauce and flavor.

                            1. re: Lori SF

                              Sounds great, thanks. I have always preferred wider noodles to more narrow.

                              1. re: poulet_roti

                                A more accurate term is knife-shaved noodle, as it is shaved from the ball of dough directly into similar but un-even slices.

                                I'm surprised Old Mandarin doesn't have this dish. Most of the other Islamic Chinese places have them in the south bay. My favorite version is Darda's chao mian using the knife-shaved noodle.


                                I did notice on Old Mandarin's website that they have stir-fried flour balls (also known as cat's ear). This is an even rarer item, hard to find even in south bay. Has anyone tried it? So it is lucky that SF has that.

                                1. re: tanspace

                                  I tried the flour balls some years ago. They are very small balls of dough, different from the oblong-ish shaped pasta served as cat's ears at another restaurant.

                                  Old Mandarin Islamic Restaurant
                                  3132 Vicente St, San Francisco, CA 94116

                              2. re: Lori SF

                                Though unlike pappardelle, they're much thicker and in varying sizes and shapes. Imagine this: a chef takes a block of fresh dough and literally uses his knife to slice away chunks of noodle to be cooked fresh. The best knife cut noodles are chewy and have incredible texture.

                                1. re: gemster

                                  I used pappardelle only as an example to compare because both absorb and pull in the sauce, fat, etc. Not to compare thickness, but each is the thicker in their own catagory. Also, I have had many variations of thickness and size with pappardelle depending on where in Italy, Americans do not do the same variety. Cheers

                                  1. re: Lori SF

                                    I understood the analogy you were making and appreciate the clarification. Interesting though that you can have varying sizes and thickness and still be able to cook them all properly.

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