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Jul 20, 2009 10:26 AM

101 Noodle Express Beef Roll with Pics

It’s easy to drive right by 101 Noodle Express in Alhambra if you don’t speak Chinese. At the strip mall where it’s at, the Chinese is prominently featured on the main sign. The words “101 Noodle Express” are in smaller print and off to the side. Even standing right in front of the restaurant itself you can miss its small compact English name. Best to look for the strip mall with the bowling alley in the center (though that place appears to be closed for business.)

Once you’re in find a table quick. This place really fills up at lunch time. I was lucky to grab the last available and sit down. The interior is a slick version of a neighborhood joint. There are framed glossy posters of signature dishes and an HD display of the lamb soup. But one dish in particular 101 Noodle Express is known for, the Beef Roll (Niu Ruo Juan Bing.) The dish is simple but the execution perfect. A thin flour pancake, beautifully toasted with golden brown spots all over its surface, is slathered with a hoisin-like sauce, sliced beef that’s been cooked fork tender and plenty of cilantro. The whole thing is then rolled into a tube like a burrito or sandwich wrap. You get two mammoth rolls for one order costing $6.75. Each one is cut into three pieces the size of a McDonald’s cheeseburger. But the golden arches doesn’t have anything that can compete with the Beef Roll in terms of flavor. The pancake is nicely crispy. The meat is falling apart tender. It had bits of tendon and connective tissue cooked soft giving the beef even more richness and flavor. The hoisin sauce was sweet with a slight tang like good BBQ sauce but with a little pungency from the fermented beans, it went perfectly with the cilantro.

For those wanting more of a spicier kick to their meal, there is the usual chili oil at your table side but also something else, a green “salsa” made of cilantro and finely diced green chili. It packs a real punch. I tried some of it on the Beef Roll and it gave it a nice burn but honestly I loved the sweet rich flavor of the roll on its own.

The Beef Roll is more than enough for one person, but I went a little overboard and also ordered the Dalu Noodle. It arrived in a huge bowl. In appearance the soup resembled the Hot and Sour soup my family makes, a thickened broth with egg “rags” floating throughout. But there was no vinegar or white pepper in this soup. Instead there was a pile of noodles, cabbage, and tender pork. It was seasoned with ginger and had wood ear tree fungus in it. It was simple, hearty and filling. It would be a great soup to have in the middle of winter.

The soup cost $5.99. With the Beef Roll, my lunch could have fed 6 people (a Chinese soup-and-sandwich meal) for under $14.

When you’re on Valley Blvd. in Alhambra keep your eyes peeled for 101. It would be a shame to drive right by this one.

101 Noodle Express
1408 E Valley Blvd
Alhambra, CA 91801
(626) 300-8654
Price Range: Between $4.99 and $7.50 for most dishes.
My review with pics

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  1. yeah i ate by myself there too, only ate half of the beef roll....everything just comes together so well...such a satisfying delicious union of ingredients

    1. Welcome to Ye Olde 101 Beef Roll Fan Club...

      1 Reply
      1. Mike/all - I had a question about this item. I saw it as a special at Mr. Swiss/Chung King, a pretty solid Sichuan place in Hacienda Heights (listed on a piece of notebook paper in the window, in Chinese, but I had to ask what people there were eating!). Is this a regional dish, street food, or sort of new in the U.S.? I'd never seen it before and was just curious where it came from and what types of Chinese restaurants tend to serve it. TIA

        6 Replies
        1. re: cant talk...eating

          The beef rolls at 101 Noodle Express are Shandong-style. You'll find similar Taiwanese style beef rolls, which are generally less pungent and a bit sweeter.

          1. re: ipsedixit

            I heard the chicken roll was supposed to be even better, anyone tried it or the pork? I can't break away from the beef roll.

            1. re: Burger Boy

              If you like chicken better than beef, then you'll like the chicken roll better than the beef roll. Now the lamb ... that would be something else.

              1. re: ipsedixit

                They have lamb, I only saw beef, chicken & pork on the menu. Is there a secret menu or did I just miss it.

                1. re: Burger Boy

                  101 has lamb skewers seasoned with cumin and chile.

              2. re: Burger Boy

                Personally I much prefer chicken to beef in general. But the beef roll blows the chicken roll away.

          2. I am a fan of the beef rolls at 101 Noodle Express. They also reheat well in a toaster oven and sometimes I like to get an extra order for lunch the next day.

            1. I just walked by what, to me, was an unknown second outpost of 101 in Rowland Hieghts in the food court of the maxi-strip mall at Fullerton Rd and the 60.
              I didn't eat but the beef rolls looked the same.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Ciao Bob

                The one in the Diamond Plaza? Been there for a while now.

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  Beef roll much better eaten there than take-out.
                  The quality is a bit better in original branch than one in Rowland Heights.

                  1. re: nomo_fan

                    That's true generally of all beef rolls.

                    Leftover beef rolls are hard to reheat and tend to get oily and greasy. The crepe wrapper becomes rubbery and loses its light and flaky-ish texture.