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101 Noodle Express Beef Roll with Pics

MikeLee Jul 20, 2009 10:26 AM

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 http://tocookandeatinla.blogspot.com/...

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  1. peppermonkey RE: MikeLee Jul 20, 2009 11:43 AM

    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. J.L. RE: MikeLee Jul 20, 2009 06:26 PM

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

      1 Reply
      1. re: J.L.
        MikeLee RE: J.L. Jul 20, 2009 07:14 PM

        Glad to be a member.

      2. cant talk...eating RE: MikeLee Jul 20, 2009 08:50 PM

        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
          ipsedixit RE: cant talk...eating Jul 20, 2009 10:11 PM

          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
            Burger Boy RE: ipsedixit Jul 21, 2009 06:22 AM

            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
              ipsedixit RE: Burger Boy Jul 21, 2009 10:05 AM

              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
                Burger Boy RE: ipsedixit Jul 21, 2009 09:03 PM

                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
                  bulavinaka RE: Burger Boy Aug 8, 2009 12:03 PM

                  101 has lamb skewers seasoned with cumin and chile.

              2. re: Burger Boy
                Chandavkl RE: Burger Boy Jul 23, 2009 07:25 AM

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

          2. p
            Pinkfoodie10 RE: MikeLee Jul 21, 2009 11:42 AM

            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. Ciao Bob RE: MikeLee Jul 21, 2009 11:47 AM

              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
                ipsedixit RE: Ciao Bob Jul 21, 2009 02:32 PM

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

                1. re: ipsedixit
                  nomo_fan RE: ipsedixit Jul 23, 2009 07:03 AM

                  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
                    ipsedixit RE: nomo_fan Jul 23, 2009 09:12 AM

                    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.

              2. JeMange RE: MikeLee Aug 8, 2009 01:13 PM

                Been a fan of this place since J Gold did a write-up a few years back. Yes, the beef roll is simply awesome, but you're short changing yourself if that's all you get here. The oxtail noodles (in broth) are amazing, as are the sole dumplings and the pork, shrimp and pumpkin dumplings. There's a dish of stir-fried pancake strips with sprouts and pork that is also mouth-wateringly good. In fact, everything I've had at this place has been absolutely delicious.

                5 Replies
                1. re: JeMange
                  Jerome RE: JeMange Aug 16, 2009 05:42 PM

                  actuallyl, to be fair to chowhound, J Gold's write-up came after (months after) there were write-ups and rec's here.

                  1. re: Jerome
                    Mr Taster RE: Jerome Aug 19, 2009 10:26 AM

                    Oh Jerome, you're too modest.... you should let everyone know that it was you that started the 101 Noodle Express train!


                    Mr Taster

                    1. re: Mr Taster
                      Jerome RE: Mr Taster Aug 23, 2009 02:08 AM

                      thanks mr taster.

                      stilll like 101 by the way.

                  2. re: JeMange
                    JAB RE: JeMange Aug 18, 2009 12:27 PM

                    OMG, the sole dumplings were out of this world. Thanks for that rec.

                    1. re: JAB
                      JAB RE: JAB Aug 24, 2009 12:35 PM

                      Today, on my 3rd visit and the 3rd time that we've ordered the beef roll, I finally realised what all of the fuss over it was. It was decidedly better today than the previous 2 times. Unfortunately however, the sole dumplings weren't nearly as good as they were on the 18th.

                  3. c
                    crystaw RE: MikeLee Aug 17, 2009 02:43 PM

                    It looks like there's a 101 Noodle Express opening in Arcadia in the space where Nice Time Deli used to be. Our friends and family were quite fond of Nice Time Deli so I hope 101 Noodle Express will be good enough to soften the blow of not having it around!

                    1. The Chowhound Team RE: MikeLee Aug 20, 2009 02:17 PM

                      Folks, we split a tangent about making the pickled condiment for beef rolls to the Home Cooking board. If you'd like to comment on the condiment, please jump over here


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