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Sep 13, 2008 04:44 PM

Dan Dan Noodles in W. LA?

Any suggestions for where to find decent dan dan noodles west of La Cienega? Thinking maybe Hu's but open to suggestion.

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  1. Pardon my ignorance, but what exactly are dan dan noodles?

    11 Replies
    1. re: nosh

      Sichuan noodle dish that is eaten cold. Noodles are dressed with a peanut sauce that is seasoned with sesame oil, shoyu, peanuts, sugar, chile, and combined with matchsticks of cucumbers and chicken or pork, green onions, and sesame seeds. It's very nice to eat on a hot day...

      1. re: bulavinaka

        Authentic dan dan mien is never made with peanut sauce -- that's only for the Americanized version.

        Authentic dan dan mien is made, with some minor variations, chili oil, soy sauce, black vinegar, Sichuan peppers, preserved vegetables (e.g. mustard greens), scallions and (sometimes) shredded fatty pork. It's the ultimate peasant street food; it's also a classic Chinese comfort food.

        Best versions are at Won Won Kitchen and Dai Ho Kitchen -- both in Temple City.

        1. re: ipsedixit

          Sorry... I'm an Americanized fool... I had a feeling that bloody smiley face was going to bludgeon me sooner or later... :)

          1. re: bulavinaka

            Not a fool! I learn a lot from your posts and wish I had half of the great info in my head to pass on to others that you do. Some cookbook authors like Nina Simmons do have recipes in their so called Chinese cookbooks that are along the lines of what you list in your post. They are inauthentic and dumbed down recipes for folks that don't know the difference and don't have the easy access to the authentic Chinese ingredients that we have at the local places like 168 Market and others. What's worse, at least for me is that when I've tried some of these recipes, I personally find them to be awful! Watery, bland and too sweet!

            1. re: sel

              Oh I am a fool, but thank you for the kind words... Just beware the bloody red smiley face - its knowledge can be deadly to one's waistline! :)

              1. re: bulavinaka


                Didn't mean to come off as harsh. :-)

                But the noodles with peanut sauce are usu. called "liang mien" or literally translated as "cold noodles". And, as you say, they come with julienned cucumbers, carrots and sometimes Chinese bean sprouts, as well as cold shredded chicken.

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  Just kidding, Ipse - your advice, knowledge, and recs are of the highest forms and very respected in my eyes... It's nearly impossible for me to comprehend that ocean of experience - seriously - bloody red smiley face or not!

          2. re: ipsedixit

            While I would never claim expertise on this topic, I do make two versions of Dan Dan Mien at home at least weekly. Both recipes are from Fuchsia Dunlop's Land of plenty : a treasury of authentic Sichuan cooking. They are different but both really excellent and authentic. The ingredients listed for theTraditional Dan Dan Noodles (dan dan mien) on pgs. 87-88 is pretty much along the lines of what you list in your post. The second recipe on pgs. 89-90 called Xie Laoban's Dan Dan Noodles (niu rou dan dan mien) is her "...recreation of a legendary and unique version of dan dan noodles served in a tiny restaurant near Sichuan University." It uses beef instead of pork and adds Sichuanese dried chilis AND has sesame paste in the sauce. I'm sure that it is the use of Chinese sesame paste that is bastardized by some cooks who substitute peanut butter. The recipes are different but both are authentic and very tasty! Like with most dishes in most cuisines there is room for individual interpretation by different chefs.
            Restaurant versions in the SGV are usually good at the places that are frequently mentioned here but seem to vary more from visit to visit than with other dishes. I guess it depends who is in the kitchen on that particular day and also the region in which the particular cook learned his craft. Of the restaurants that are still open I've had pretty good Dan Dan Mien at Chung King (yea I know, one dimensional and greasy for you but not for me!), Szechwan Best (in the original Oriental Pearl space) and Hong Yei. I haven't yet been to Won Won Kitchen and haven't tried this dish at Dai Ho Kitchen, just the Beef Noodle Soup which is excellent, but this is the beginning of a new week and I'll hit both in the next few days! Thanks for the tips!!!

            1. re: ipsedixit

              Just got caught up with J. Gold's recent article - Szechwan Best in Alhambra - he recs the dan dan mein - is it worthy?


              1. re: bulavinaka

                Does JGold actually recommend the dan dan noodle at Szechwan Best?

                Unless I missed it (highly likely) he doesn't even mention the dish in his review, only the caption says the noodle is a "best bet".

                I've never had it there before (although other things I've tried there have been very disappointing), the picture seems to indicate that their dan dan noodles are made with peanut sauce.

                Check it out and let us know.

                P.S. For a lot of people dan dan mien is not something one orders in a restaurant because it's so easy to make at home (just some chili oil, soy sauce, vinegar, pickled veggies and some noodles and voila! Dan Dan Noodles). Sort of like how most people don't order PB&J at restaurants ...

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  I didn't think he gave it a rec in the article's body but the photo can also be a play on words - (Szechwan) Best bet - photo of dan dan mein...

                  You make it sound like it's sooooo easy... you mean I have to boil the noodles too? Ohhhhhh... :)

          1. Hu's is probably your best bet of the very most west "west side" locations. I also see them as tang tang noodles at Cheng Du on Pico Blvd. and which I have had on occasion. Nothing great, but they will do in a pinch. If you do have them at Hu's please post your thoughts so we have an updated report.

            1. I was at Hu's today for lunch, and I asked the manager about dan dan noodles. He said they serve them, and showed me a menu where they are listed as "tang tang" or "tan tan" noodles. I asked if they had a peanut sauce, and he said theirs was a sesame sauce. I asked if they were served cold, and he said theirs was served warm. So I hope this is helpful, though it seems different from what you were seeking.