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ZJM @ New Mandarin Garden

Saw Korean ZJM on TV and made me want ZJM. I remembered that New Mandarin Garden in SSF has a version on their Korean menu and went there to try.

Korean jajangmyeon is based on the Chinese zha jiang mien (ZJM) from Shangdong province. It's basically noodles with a bean sauce of some sort over it. I asked for the ZJM from their Korean menu. Th waitress made sure that I wanted the Korean version rather than their Taiwanese version. She warned me, "It's black." I confirmed that indeed I wanted the black sauce version.

This was everything the TV version made me hanker for. The noodles were toothsome, the sauce was sweet and smoky. The crisp cumbers provided a nice contrast. The waitress mentioned that when most people order ZJM, they give them the Taiwanese version (which they say has dried bean curd). In fact, she told me that their Cantonese clientele HATE the Korean ZJM. I wonder why? I must come back to try the TW ZJM.

For pics http://noodledoor.blogspot.com/2008/0...

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  1. Not having grown up with zha jiang mian, I don't have a particular style that defines the dish for me. Mostly I'm all about the type of noodle used. A handpulled type here?

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    New Mandarin Garden
    744 El Camino Real, South San Francisco, CA 94080

    1 Reply
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      yes, hand pulled and a lot of bite. i think they use the same noodle for both saucing versions.

    2. I really enjoyed ZJM here the 2nd to last time I went, though I think I got the Taiwanese version at the time and it was still great.

      For the most recent visit, the XLBs were nowhere as good as the first visit, although when I requested black vinegar I got it.

      We got the Da Lu Mien, which was an interesting thick egg drop kind of broth, very flavorful with veg, mushroom, and 4 large pieces of shrimp. The broth was excellent nonetheless. The noodles were really really toothsome maybe not cooked enough, but it really tasted hand made as the storefront sign above the entrance claimed to be.

      Green onion pancakes here are excellent. Sufficient scallions used, and extra crispy as they deep fry vs bake. And the end result is not very oily at all, which is great.

      3 Replies
      1. re: K K

        Good versions of dalu mian are kinda hard to find. However, what I usually order most often of the Shandong/Korean-chinese noodle dishes is chao ma mian, spicy seafood noodle soup. Anyone had it here?

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          Answering my own question, last week I stopped by for a late lunch to try the chao ma mian.

          New Mandarin Garden's chao ma mian -
          http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2022/2...

          The noodles themselves are excellent and very chewy. But the rest, not so good. Exactly two pieces of shrimp and two pieces of squid leg, most of the protein was contributed by sea cucumber (not my favorite). I will say that the strips of pork were smooth and succulent. Can't really comment on the broth as it was so spicy hot, I'd start to choke when I tried to drink it. I did brave a few spoonfuls, after breaking the surface tension of the chili oil and trying to get to the liquid underneath it. Good depth to the stock, and I'd like to try other soup noodles here.

          I noticed another table eating what they called "fried bread" with sweetened condensed milk --- anyone tried this? Or the Korean-Chinese set dinner menus?

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            Thanks for the report on chao ma mian, jampong is the Korean equivalent correct? Where have you had a good version?

      2. I finally returned to New Mandarin Garden in SSF to try their other zha jiang mien (ZJM) version. It's their "Taiwanese" version. The noodles here were the same toothsome, hand-pulled kind used in the Korean version. But the sauce was different. So first off, the Korean version uses black beans and the sauce ends up very black whereas this one uses a more brownish bean sauce. You can also see bits of ground pork and dried bean curd diced up in this version along with some green onions and I think bamboo shoots (well, there's some kind of diced vegetable in the sauce for texture). The Korean version only of had diced up fatty pork (not ground).
        I really thought I was going to like this version better seeing the servers had said that most Chinese people like this version and seeing that my palate is skewed Taiwanese. But I didn't. The sauce was very sweet for a Chinese style bean sauce. Sweet isn't a flavour I find great with dried bean curd. I wish the prominent note had been salty instead. It wasn't bad but the taste wasn't exactly addictive either. I'm sticking with the Korean version next time.

        For pics http://noodledoor.blogspot.com/2008/0...

        1. Does anyone know whether ZAZANG KOREAN NOODLE place is still viable? Located on Geary, SF, near Kaiser? it was the first place I had this dish, and now my appetite has been piqued!

          1. about the Taiwanese version - might they have been referring to fermented bean curd? (instead of dry bean curd)

            1 Reply
            1. re: gordon wing

              I don't think so. It was do fu gan diced up in there.

            2. I went there today for the first time for lunch after getting a huge craving for Chinese noodles.

              I guess I was early because I was the only diner in the place at times. Several people would walk in and get take out, then finally people started to trickle in around 12:30. The waitstaff/owners seem to be able to converse in many of the Chinese dialects which was pretty surprising, but good to see.

              I ordered the "Korean" style zha-jiang-mian and like previous posters, the noodles were fresh and springy ("q"). The Chinese menu lists the ZJM as the "three seafood" variety, while the Korean/Chinese menu doesn't. What I received was a BIG bowl of noodles topped with julienned cucumbers and a separate medium-sized bowl of the black sauce. The sauce did not have any seafood, but had sliced pork, diced squash, sliced carrot, and I think some onion. The sauce was thicker than at other places. $8 after tax. For small-medium appetite eaters, I think a serving could be easily shared among two people, unless I happened to get the first-customer-of-the-day jumbo portion.

              This rendition of ZJM would rank (for me) near the top of the Bay Area offerings. I still miss the noodles at Four Seasons (next to the Maxim's Market) in San Jose the most.

              P.S. Their Korean/Chinese menu section has "Wen Lu Mian" in addition to Da Lu Mian.