Dan dan mian??
Best places in the city to find it?
I had never heard of it before until browsing thru some old posts and after finding out what it is, I think it might be the dish I have been searching for the past 1.5 years! While I know its origins are Chinese, I had something that looked extremely similar and same ingredients on the side of the road in Laos last year, which was hands down one of the top ten things I have eatten in my life. Where can I find it here!
My favorite actually is Wu Liang Ye on 86th Street-can never get into the midtown branch. I've had them at other Sichuan restaurants which vary. The spice meat ratio at WLY is the best; i.e. lots of heat and lots of meat. Interestingly just read that the name "Dan Dan" comes from the long poles that the street noodle vendors would carry the noodles on while making their rounds and shouting out their offerings. Sort of like being at the ballpark: "hey get your Dan Dan noodles here!"
dan dan mian comes in a lot of different "authentic" variations, some soupier than others; some made with sesame paste (peanut butter is an Americanization), some without; some with pork, others with chicken or beef; and some with veggies, most without. maybe you could describe in more detail what you're looking for?
Sorry, had taken a break from the world for a bit! I definitely don't remember the ones I had with peanut butter. It was pork in a red sauce. I have no idea what else might have been in it because I was off the side of the road. The picture on wikipedia (of all places) looks very similar to what I ate....
Thanks so much for all of the advice! I will have to just start trying!
cimui is right different versions can taste very different - ive had versions that are very peanuty and some that just have a few peanuts sprinkled on top, some soupy some not etc
in terms of preference:
- Grand Sichuan on St Marks: this is my personal favorite in manhattan (the defunct hell's kitchen by far had the best version in the city, but its unfortunately gone now)
- Szechuan Gourmet: although i think is definitely the best sichuan in the city, but their dan dan mian is just ok, i prefer GS's version
- Wu Liang Ye: I didn't really like Wu Liang Ye's version last time I went there, it was too salty
Other Grand Sichuan brances: I'm generally not a fan of any of the grand sichuan's branch (chelsea is too amercanized, mideast is terrible as is chinatown)
I suggest you make the trek to flushing at some point as the sichuan food in flushing is quite good (LIRR takes 15 mins). If you ever have a chance to eat it in the sichuan province, i highly recommend to do, the food there is unbelievable.
I've eaten dan dan noodles from all three of the above places, although not from all of the branches referenced.
IMHO, best version:
1. Wu Liang Ye - 48th street branch, near Rockefeller - noodles were a little al dente, and the noodles had the great peppery-ness that you get from sichuan peppercorns
2. Grand Sichuan - st mark's - this one is a bit different as it has a peanut based sauce in additional to the chili, peppercorns and ground pork. very tasty, nonetheless
3. Wu Liang Ye - 86th street branch -good, but not as good as the above two
3. Szechuan Gourmet - pretty good, although this one tasted predominantly more spicy instead of the other flavor notes associates with dan dan. Still tasty and good if you like spicy.
Avoid - 39th & Lex branch of Wu Liang Ye - very ordinary chinese and not nearly as good as the above.