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Dec 16, 2007 02:23 AM

ISO "dao xiao mian" (handmade chewy noodles cut from ball with a knife) in Los Angeles

Hi all -

I am craving the "dao xiao mian" (handmade chewy noodles cut from ball with a knife) that I had when I visited Beijing. Any recs in L.A. Chinatown or somewhere else in the city? (SGV is Chinese cuisine is better, I know, but it's difficult for me to get there regularly.) Thank you!

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  1. Good question. The answer used to be Heavy Noodling in Monterey Park until they closed down earlier in the year. Then somebody mentioned Number One Noodle House in Rowland Heights, but an update said the chef went back to China and I don't know if he took his knife with him. The other place I can think of is Three Family's Restaurant in the Hong Kong Supermarket shopping center in Rowland Heights.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Chelmoon

      No.1 has knife cut noodles, but they seem way too reluctant to cook any of it. Last time I went they only will serve it with the beef noodle or beef rib soup. I was hoping for a stirred fried version.

      Anyway, the Mandarin Deli (I think it's Mandarin Deli) a few doors down from Elite at Monterey Park has a red banner that said it has knife cut and hand pulled noodles on it in chinese when I went to Elite a month back. Maybe someone can report if they do have it and if it's any good.

      1. re: notmartha

        You won't find it No. 1 Noodle House, most likely. The kitchen doesn't make the dough on a regular basis. It's too small of an operation.

        1. re: ipsedixit

          We just had it a week ago. The lady had to call back to the kitchen find out if they have it, but they do. Also had it 2 times previously. Like I said, you can only order it with beef or beef rib noodle soup.

          These knife cut noodles are the "dao xiao" ones - cut from a ball, not rolled out to a sheet then cut (like Italian pasta). So the texture is thin on the edges, chewy in the middle, and they are totally irregular. The chinese characters for "dao xiao" is pretty distinct. 刀削麵

    2. just had it at mandarin noodle house on garvey (near atlantic) and across the street from seafood village. it was my first time having the chinese version of it. it was pretty good but a little blander than the korean version Im used to (jja jang myun). their boiled dumplings were pretty juicy and tasty too :)

      19 Replies
      1. re: olivexjina

        i always thought that jja jang myun is totally different from hand cut noodles. JJM is typically made with a thin (processed) noodle right?

        1. re: wilafur

          it is totally different...look at the video i posted below to see what "dao xiao mian" is

          1. re: Lau

            ah. good to have confirmation. wooooo! thanks.

            1. re: wilafur


              the term "Jia Jiang Myun" does not describe a type of noodle, but rather the sauce that garnishes noodle. (ed note: "myun" just means noodle)

              On the other hand, "dao xiao mian" does describe a type of noodle.

              1. re: ipsedixit

                understood......however, i was pointing out that the mien typically used in the making of jia jian mien is very different from dao xiao mien.

                i was comparing mien vs mien. not the toppings/garnishes.

                1. re: wilafur


                  But you know, you can make jia jiang mien with dia xiao mien.

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    yep, but it wouldn't be the same. =)

                    1. re: wilafur

                      I must respectfully disagree with Wilafur...

                      Grandpa J.L. used to make (from scratch) "zha jiang mien" with knife cut noodles at home all the time! It's freaking delicious!

                      1. re: J.L.

                        well i guess ipsedixit and j.l. are right in that zha jiang mian does refer to the sauce they use as it literally translates to "fried sauce noodle"...but i mean go to almost any restaurant and you will not see it served with dao xiao mian although you could do it

                        1. re: Lau

                          That's because most restaurants just use the machine made mass produced thin noodles. It's more labor to do the knife cut.

                          The now-defunct Knife Cut noodle place in MP has all sorts of soup or sauce with their knife cut noodles, including sesame paste, but can't remember if they have zha jiang mian (not a fan). I really miss the stirred fried knife-cut noodles.

                          1. re: notmartha

                            I, too, really enjoy dao xiao mian in its stir-fried iteration, but I know there are those who consider to similar to chow-fun.

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              kind of like a chow fun/nian gao hybrid.

                              1. re: wilafur

                                hey, but that's 2 of my favorite starches.

                                  1. re: wilafur

                                    Want to confirm a restaurant that serves dao xiao mian with zha jiang:

                                    Kam Hong Garden (it's not Cantonese)
                                    848 E Garvey Ave #A
                                    Monterey Park, CA 91755
                                    (626) 280-9318

                                    (wilafur, it's on yelp).

                                    They don't just have dao xiao, they have 3 types of hand made noodles. Or... Hand made to d'frent degrees:

                                    Hand kneed, machine cut
                                    Hand pulled.
                                    Hand kneed, knife cut.

                                    Just like Mama's on New Ave, their house special is dao xiao niou rou mien. But they also have Shantong style 3-treasures chao-ma mien (ala Korean spicy seafood noodle soup).

                                    The hand pulled noodle had so much "Q" it was beyond "al dente". Easily best of the bunch. The dao xiao was a bit over cooked for me, but the shape/texture was still fun. Actual "jiang" in the zha jiang is still totally BLAH compared to what I envision/remember. Every noodle dish (in soup, dry, or stir fry) can be ordered with dao xiao for additional cost. There are also various deli meats in the fridge case. The Shandong roast chicken was extremely tasty coupled with the light noodles.

                                    Not sure which province the chef is from, tho there is an odd Taiwanese section. Per owner, from Shanxi, not Shandong, chef worked in a Taiwanese restaurant for a long time before settling at Kam Hong.

                                    Restaurant is only 7 months old, it's on the corner of a very non-descript plaza next door to a equally non-descript pho joint. The menu board from the original 2-week old Cantonese restaurnt remains, albeit flipped inside out.

                                    1. re: TonyC

                                      Thanks for the tip TonyC. Sounds very promising. Do they have the knife cut in stirred fried dishes (not soup)?

                                      1. re: notmartha

                                        Went on Xmas. To answer my own question they do have the stirred fried knife cut noodles dish, but the flavor is not as assertive as the now defunct Heavy Noodling place at MP.

                                      2. re: TonyC

                                        righteous. thanks for the heads up. i'm gonna check it out one of these days.

                                        1. re: TonyC

                                          We went here last night and it was all pretty tasty. Pretty clean and nice looking inside too; they have an A rating. I remember Heavy Noodling being a little better tasting, but the food is pretty good. I had the vegetarian dao xiao noodles, which somehow wasn't quite as hearty as I had hoped (maybe a little too much cabbage), but the texture of the noodles was pretty good. I might like it a tiny bit chewier. I haven't had them in a while, but I thought I remembered them being longer and a little thinner, with kinda ruffly / uneven edges from the shaving; the ones I had last night were pretty short and thick.

                                          The gf and family got a noodle soup dish with hand pulled noodle dishes, and liked those as well... she said that the hand pulled noodles were maybe a bit chewier than the dao xiao ones. We also had a couple kinds of pan fried dumplings, an order of xiao long bao (which they said were just being made), and a couple of appetizer plates. Overall, the food was good, prices good; definitely plan on going back to try their sesame noodles during the week.

                                          You can get most of the stir fried noodle dishes with nian gao instead of the noodles.

          2. Mandarin Deli on Reseda in Northridge has handmade noodles that are cut with a knife, but I think they roll them out and then cut them. (I'm not sure what a noodle cut from a ball looks like.) The spicy beef soup that they serve them in is pretty tasty too. Be sure to mention that you want hand-made noodles, otherwise you'll get the regular kind.

            (Yes, this is the same operation as Mandarin Noodle House on Garvey. Also the same as the Mandarin Delis in Chinatown and Little Tokyo that are now closed.)

            3 Replies
            1. re: Bjartmarr

              i think there is some confusion about what dao xiao mian is...here's a video


              1. re: Lau

                Great video, thanks for the clarification. Now I want some!

                1. re: Lau

                  That...is awesome. No, those are definitely not the "hand make noodles" from Mandarin Deli.

              2. FYI...I have found that although they say hand cut noodles, it may not be hand cut at the restaurant. Restaurants can actually buy 'hand cut' noodles from a manufacturer and still say hand cut in the menu. So if you want house made, make sure to ask.

                1. Try the beef (knife cut = dao xiao) noodle soup (nio ruo mien) at Dumpling Master in Monterey Park.

                  Dumpling Master
                  423 N. Atlantic #106
                  Monterey Park, CA 91754
                  (626) 458-8689

                  22 Replies
                  1. re: J.L.

                    Mama's on New Ave has dao xiao mian.

                    saucesupreme will testify to their tastiness as will Erik M.
                    Mama's also does dao xiao zha jiang mien. Mrs. Hua has been commanding Mama's on New for over a decade tho they no longer serve Taiwanese food. The house dish is the dao xiao niou rou mien (pardon my pinyin)

                    the other choices are Tasty (the dessert shop) on Valley Blvd and a corner shack in a strip mall on Garvey East of Garfield.

                    To original poster: DT Chinatown to Mama's on New Ave is a mere 15 miles...

                    1. re: TonyC

                      Is that the same Mama's that had the cartoon commercials with dancing headless chickens a few years back? I just remember them repeating "Mama Ja, Mama Ja" over and over.

                      I'm super bummed about Heavy Noodling closing, but will definitely try the noodles at Mama's.

                      1. re: TonyC

                        Mama's does not do dao xiao mian. It's hand-pulled :]

                        1. re: ClarissaW

                          Welcome to CH Clarissa!

                          Looking forward to your upcoming stories (to be published elsewhere of course).

                          1. re: Peripatetic

                            Thank you! On a quest on find the best hand-made noodles. Let me know if y'all have any strong recommendations. So far I'm partial to Kam Hong & Shaanxi Gourmet.

                            1. re: ClarissaW

                              I love Shaanxi Gourmet. I keep forgetting to ask them to let me tear my own mantou (pita), though.

                              I liked Kam Hong when I first visited them three years ago, but this was my most recent experience:


                              1. re: ClarissaW

                                One thing, though . . . I'm still searching for _true_ hand pulled noodles, not just "cut and hand stretched" noodles.

                                I brought this up in an earlier thread (complete with youtube video!):


                                It would be great if an article (wink, wink) would get to the bottom of this distinction, at least as it pertains to the SGV.

                                1. re: Peripatetic

                                  I'm still flunking kindergarten at the SGV School of Chinese Cuisine and Terminology, but your linked Youtube is what I thought hand-pulled was... So is there a combination of knife-cut/hand-pulled?

                                  1. re: bulavinaka

                                    I just want to see the results of a "double blindfolded" taste test of machine made vs hand pulled vs knife cut vs robot vs sheared off by a dyslexic owl (or should that be by a "low" if it's dyslexic?) and see what happens... ;-D>

                                    1. re: bulavinaka

                                      There is hand-pulled noodles ("lah mien"), where the chef does acrobatic stretching and folding of the dough into a thinner and thinner strand of noodle (ideally a single strand). Fun to watch. And eat. Usually these end up being thinner noodles, based on the skill of the chef.

                                      ... and then there is knife-cut noodles ("dao-xiao"), where the chef stands over the boiling water, holding a big spherical-esque wad of dough in his non-dominant hand while wielding a knife in the dominant hand, shaving the dough into the vessel/cauldron. Usually these end up being thicker noodles, with more "bite". Yum.

                                      It's usually one or the other. For further edification, I suggest going to Kam Hong Gardens, where they clearly serve both types of noodles, and you can (deliciously) compare & contrast. (Actually they also serve a third type of noodle there too, but to keep from complicating the issue at hand, I will not discuss that here)

                                      1. re: J.L.

                                        In Xi'an, one often sees the dough balanced on a the head of a chef wielding two knives, arms flying above his head, slicing the threads of yumminess into the boiling water.

                                        1. re: J.L.

                                          I need to be slapped for apathy. Kam Hong is where I eat while waiting for my to-go order at Beijing Pie House. I've eaten several noodle dishes there in all noodle techniques. My favorite is a simple dry noodle dish with pork and leeks with what I recall to be knife cut, reminding me of Sweethome's noodles, no?

                                      2. re: Peripatetic

                                        One thing, though . . . I'm still searching for _true_ hand pulled noodles, not just "cut and hand stretched" noodles.

                                        The last true hand-pulled noodle chef that I am aware of in the SGV was at the-late Dumpling House (now currently "Ish" with no relation). This was probably some 20+ years ago, before JGold "discovered" it. He was gone probably a good 5 years before Y2K was all the rage.

                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                          Thanks, that would explain why the ostensibly 手拉 (hand pulled) noodles I've come across all seem to be cut and stretched only.

                                          As I just mentioned in another thread, Kam Hong lists:

                                          刀削 - dāo xiāo (knife pared)
                                          手拉 - shǒu lā (hand pulled)
                                          手桿 - shǒu gǎn (hand kneaded?)

                                          The 手拉 (shǒu lā) at Kam Hong is not at all like the hand pulled in this youtube video:


                                          Instead it's squared off -- much like giant udon. They claimed it was cut and then pulled. It's entirely possible we were whited (although my wife is Korean, which seems to limit our susceptibility to this practice).

                                          1. re: Peripatetic

                                            Very few, if any, people do true hand-pulled noodles nowadays. Commercially made noodles, and hand-rolled, are many times substituted simply because the quality is "good enough" and there just isn't the demand to go through the fuss of hiring/training someone and then actually undertaking the labor intensive task.

                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                              In Vegas there's a place in a casino (forgot which one, but it's on the Strip, maybe Caesar's?) where there's a lah mien restaurant with a guy out front demonstrating the art of pulling noodles by hand.

                                              1. re: J.L.

                                                Beijing Noodle Cafe about 5 miles east from the Strip has excellent and cheap hand pulled noodles. I enjoyed Lan Zhou Beef Noodle Soup a lot.

                                2. re: TonyC

                                  Who remembers Dow Shaw Noodle House in San Gabriel (1990s) and whatever happened to that noodle maker?

                                  1. re: Chandavkl

                                    Tony (IIRC his name correctly and dunno his Chinese name) was said to have left for Malan Noodle, but did not stay long.

                                    1. re: Chandavkl

                                      Actually, I think Dow Shaw was the original spot for what is now JTYH

                                      1. re: Chandavkl

                                        The place I am thinking of was actually on Garvey (just 1/2 block east of Atlantic).

                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                          Yes, that was Heavy Noodling, 153 E. Garvey, successor to Dow Shaw at 432 E. Valley