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Dan Dan noodles in DTW

One of the chapters in Fuchsia Dunlop's book "Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China" is about Szechuan Dan Dan noodles. I could only find two places in the metro that served them. Mon Jin Lau and PF Chang/Pei Wei. I had lunch at Pei Wei today and if their version of Dan Dan warranted a whole chapter I think I'm tracking the wrong chinese cuisine writer (I'm reading her Hunan and Szechuan books at the moment). Noodles were tepid spaghetti-like and the spicy ground chicken sauce was mono-dimensional and just plain uninteresting. The coolest part of the whole ordeal was I got to sit at the bar and watch the cooks assemble the dishes. Their kitchen is very clean and the operators are well trained and smooth. The show was almost worth the $8. But, I guess I'll have to wait for the next SF trip for Dan Dan.

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  1. I so want you to guide me around Detroit's South East Asian world one day.....

    1. There's nothing wrong with your choice of books, there's something wrong with your choice of restaurants. You read about actual Dan Dan noodles from Sichuan province and you thought you'd find a good version at a P.F. Chang's owned eatery ? I wouldn't be going to Chi Chi's to find a good version of a real Mole. I haven't seen the real deal on any menus so far, but if you at least want nooodles in a more authentic Sichuanese type of broth try Hidden Dragon in Ypsi or Chia Shiang in A2. Both offer Noodles in Sichuan sauc e and Hidden Dragon has a pretty tasty version with pickled vegetables to boot.

      6 Replies
      1. re: moose734

        moose734 is right on. Neither PF Chang's nor Mon Jin Lau has anything that will come close to the food you're looking at in your book! Another place to try for some moderately authentic Sichuan is Best China in Canton.

        Best China
        7233 N Lilley Rd
        Canton, MI 48187
        (734) 459-1688

        1. re: jjspw

          You are both right. I will keep my opinions to myself from now on until I get it right according to the blog world.

          1. re: goatgolfer

            Better suggestion: find yourself a good dan dan mian recipe and make it yourself at home. Granted, you're not going to pull your own noodles, but you can slip over the border to Windsor and find all of the ingredients, including fresh noodles, you need to make delicious Sichuan cuisine. I wish I could recommend a local restaurant that serves authentic Sichuan specialties, but the closest I've gotten to the real thing was in Toronto.

            I'm sure P.F. Chang serves lovely middle of road Chinese-American food, but for authenticity, I'd head elsewhere.

            1. re: 1sweetpea

              Have you tried Hidden Dragon in Ypsi ? I've had food there that I'd rank not too far behind some of the Sichuan cuisine I've had in Chicago ( Double Li, Lao Szechawn, Spring World)

        2. re: moose734

          When you were in Szechuan where did you have Dan Dan.?

          1. re: goatgolfer

            Lol, never been to China. I just try and seek out places that offer more authentic type Chinese cuisine ( especially Sichuan, since I'm a big fan of the flavor of the dishes. I know , liking food that literally numbs your mouth can be a bit odd but damn it's tasty)

        3. Amazing this post is nearly one year old and I am still on the hunt. I approached Trizest (14 & Dequindre) on Friday (Chinese New Year) and the manager informed me dan dan mien isn't on the menu any longer because they "have" to make the sauce batch large and it doesn't always sell. So, after the soup dumpling party I am going west to Ypsi and AA as recommended for the real thing. I have collected Fuchsia Dunlop's two recipes for dan dan and gathered sichuan pepper corns from Penzey's. Updates to follow.

          P.S. The M44 Spicy Steamed Lamb at Trizest was very tasty. It takes 20 minutes to steam so plan ahead but they put sweet potatoes in at well and at $18 family style it's very spicy and tasty.
          "

          18 Replies
          1. re: goatgolfer

            If you're coming to this area ( A2/Ypsi), your best bet now may be Middle Kingdom. Order the Szechaun style noodles off the Chinese menu ( the menu with the red cover). These actually come with the ground pork and greens that are lacking at the other restaurants around here.

            -----
            Middle Kingdom
            332 S Main St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104

            1. re: moose734

              I second Middle Kingdom. But, you have to know what you want and find a way to communicate it--during the times I've visited, there usually has been a chef from Sichuan in the kitchen. Oh, and one needs to be tolerant of crowds and immodest prices.

              -----
              Middle Kingdom
              332 S Main St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104

            2. re: goatgolfer

              maybe we can have Trizest do a full-n Sichuan party for us? Stuff they wouldn't normally cook, but in large numbers?

              Don

              1. re: donbui82

                Don,
                Can you shoot me an email at xznwzl@yahoo.com regarding the above good idea?
                PS-- Are you "in" to the Google Detroit Chow group, set up by jjspw, related to this CH board?
                Regards, VTB

                1. re: VTB

                  So, I spoke to the Manager @ Trizest on Friday 2/4/11 about "whether a table of 10" would entice the cook to make the dan dan sauce necessary for the dish. She said that not even the owner of the restaurant could MAKE the cook do that but a reservation of a table of 10 would have strong impact. Since I am leading the soup dumpling parade on google detroit chow I will be a happy participant in either a Sterling Heights or A2/Ypsi push for dan dan.

                  1. re: goatgolfer

                    These guys? http://www.usbgfood.com/menu.asp

                    Yelp reviews indicate the Sterling, MI location has Dan Dan Noodles. It is a bit odd that a restaurant group that advertises itself as serving Sichuan food in Michigan would not have it on the menu. It is not a complicated sauce to make!

                    1. re: scoopG

                      Unfortunately, they do not have it on the menu. The yelp review that you read mistakenly identified the sichuan cold noodles as dan dan mian.

                      Even stranger than them not having dan dan mian, is that they serve a korean variation of zha jiang mian. However, in my opinion both of these oddities can be overlooked thanks to the rest of their menu :)

                      1. re: rcloud

                        I can only guess that these Chinese folks running the show are not from Sichuan at all. Nor are the chefs/cooks. Sigh....

                    1. re: goatgolfer

                      Will do G.G.. I'll try to reach Chef Wong, by week's end. Hopefully he'll still be "game."
                      Cheers, VTB

                      1. re: goatgolfer

                        Hi G.G., Sorry I've been preoccupied with a home sale and purchase. Anyway, while I haven't yet been able to talk Chef Wong into a demonstration of hand-pulling noodles, he is very ready and willing to host another dinner for C.H.ers, this time with a theme of noodles (including, of course, Sichuanese dan dan noodles). I'll start a Google group topic so that we can set a date/budget/menu ---maybe the Saturday night before Mother's Day??

                        1. re: VTB

                          Groovy. A sampling sounds very interesting. 7 May I am in. See you on Detroit Chow

                          1. re: VTB

                            PS-- here is the link to the google forum:
                            http://groups.google.com/group/detroi...

                            PPS-- rather than having a noodle theme, involving dan dan noodles, perhaps we should have a Sichuanese theme involving dan dan noodles??

                            1. re: VTB

                              I hate to say +1 again....but I am fully down with that.

                              I am formally requesting 回锅肉...

                              1. re: JanPrimus

                                ummm, you're either requesting Twice Cooked Pork or you're requesting two hot....well, I better not say....

                                1. re: VTB

                                  Maybe Both....I am not sure what the second option is yet.

                    2. re: goatgolfer

                      I even have trouble finding a great bowl of Dan Dan Noodles in NYC's Sichuan houses! I agree with 1sweetpea. Start making Dunlop's recipe and you will see....

                    3. I'm going to second Best China in Canton. Try their Jia Jia Mieng noodles. Its going to be the closest to real Dan Dan Noodles (I have no idea why they insist upon repeating themselves), but its tastiness is guaranteed. Its really, really good.

                      don

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: donbui82

                        I love their noodles, but it's not really that similar to Dan Dan mein. You did remind me though that I need to make a return trip there soon.

                      2. 我喜歡一些內臟,紅辣椒的和一些好的誠實的傳統菜餚。

                        1. Dan dan noodles on FoodNetwork show Meat and Potatoes - Meat with Heat episode. Tivo caught it on Sat 4/30 at 11pm. Also, the Sichuan lamb prep was very interesting.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: goatgolfer

                            fyi--google meeting page updated for this weekend's DanDan noodle event :-)