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Hand-stretched Chinese noodles in Seattle

  • c

Hi everybody:

Saw a Tony Bourdain episode from Sichuan province in China awhile back where they made hand-stretched noodles, so I decided to go on a 'mission from God' to find some around here.

After a helluva lot of searching, Noodle King in Chinatown is the only place I could find in the Northwest that has the real deal... and the search was absolutely worth the effort. I finally found them through the fine folks over at the MSG150.com blog.

Been to Noodle King several times now and every dish I've had is darn good. I'd say they're in the top 3 or 4 noodle places in Chinatown. Perhaps because they're a new business, they always seem to have a special where you can get a great bowl of soup for around four bucks.

Anyway, I was messing around with a new camera and some software and filmed the noodle guy working his magic the other day. It was cool enough that I decided to finally get a YouTube account and post it for others.

I'd like to see this place do well, so I thought I'd pimp 'em a bit and hopefully help raise the bar for all the other noodle joints in this part of the world, which can only be a good thing.

Here's the link:

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  1. That video is the best!

    It's a crying shame they don't put that dude in the window where he's street-visible...they'd be drawing in tourists left and right. That's how it's done elsewhere.

    2 Replies
    1. re: equinoise

      TOTALLY agree with equinoise!!

      BTW,what was the music?

      1. re: grangie angie

        Sorry to shout, but...

    2. What a great video! Wow.

      You don't happen to know if that's a wheat-based noodle or a rice-based one, do you? I'm guessing the former, since that dough was behaving like it has a lot of gluten in it. I'm gluten-intolerant, but every once in a while suffer the consequences for something really delicious.

      The restaurant definitely looks worth checking out. Thanks for the tip!

      2 Replies
      1. re: seattledebs

        Definitely wheat. I went there for lunch today, and they're taking 50% off one item if it's your birthday. And guess what, it's my birthday! In addition to noodle soup, I had the cold jellyfish dish. Man that was yummy, with the faintest tinge of ginger & green onion.

        I also lucked out and could see the noodle master from my table, working his magic in the back.

        1. re: Lets_eat

          Man, am I in luck? or what?
          I was born on Thursday, so every Thursday is my birthday.
          Let's eat.

      2. I actually went and checked this place out yesterday. Pretty good for a cheap lunch in the ID, although it didn't seem to be all that busy when I was there.

        1. There's a place in Kenmore called Tai Ho. Everything in that restaurant is a culinary catastrophe, but they do sell hand-pulled noodles. Don't actually eat there, though, as their noodle soup and ingredients are a catastrophe as well. However, their hand-pulled noodles by their lonesome seem to be of a acceptable to better-than-acceptable quality, but is best if you take them home and add your own soup and ingredients. I can't be the only one who thought of this, because they actually sell the plain noodles by themselves according to the menu.

          What I wouldn't give to have Shi'an in Lake City back in business...

          5 Replies
          1. re: HungWeiLo

            Wish I'd thought of that--or ordered just plain noodles, when I ate at Tai Ho. My dining companion may never forgive me for suggesting that place. HungWeiLo gives wise counsel: Please don't eat there.

            1. re: HungWeiLo

              Hungwei - speaking of 'what I wouldn't give,' you might just be the one for this obscure question:
              Shortly after (or was it before?) Lincoln High School was mothballed, in the early (?) seventies, the A&W Rootbeer Stand that fed its more posh students, for years, closed its doors. Successions of rental tenants followed. I was not paying much attention, but one that sticks out was "Fuji Teriyaki Chinese Cuisene." Irony nearly had me on the floor. An earlier tenant had been 'Fuji Teriyaki' (It wasn't all that and, so, disappeared quickly), and the new occupants had, with all the wisdom of MBA marketing, attempted to preserve the 'brand' and Wallingford became the home of the best food with the silliest name in this whole town. The food was at least 60% of this amazing experience, and it was amazing. It was clear at bite-one the chef was happy to work with our local produce and seafood. I'd have liked to see Alice Waters compete against this. Dude. Humongous. The other 40%, btw, were the absolutely charming, 'glad-to-be-so-little-I can speak-American-so-easily' daughters who staffed the front of the house.
              After a few years (1?, 2?, 3?...), I approached the door, but to find "moved to Lake City" posted there.
              They dis-an-F-in-peared.
              Any clues?
              I cruise Lake City Way dangerously to this day, with eyes intent on signage, but nothing.

              1. re: mrnelso

                Hmm...doesn't ring a bell. But then I didn't move to the Seattle area until the late 90s...

                1. re: HungWeiLo

                  thanks. I was sort of hoping another old-timer might see this post, too...

              2. re: HungWeiLo

                sniff, sniff, sniff, I miss Shi'an. . . . .I loved their noodles. My kids would line up chairs to watch the noodle guy.

              3. Another place to try is Henry's Taiwan. It's definitely hand-pulled. There's one 2 storefronts down from Noodle King. There's another one in Bellevue, but haven't tried that one.

                1. Wow, awesome work CPN. Can't wait to give that place a try. Was your camera on a table or a tripod?

                  1. T'was my birthday today, so I bundled up against the rain with the chowpup and a friend and headed to the ID for the Noodle King experience. Spicy Seafood Noodle was quite tasty, the beef in the Beef Noodle was tender and flavorful, but the Chicken Noodle broth was watery and bleh. Noodles were very tasty. We sat at a table where we had a clear view of the theatrics, but I still can't figure out how he gets the noodles to split into individual noodles at the very end of the process. The process appears to borrow heavily from the physics involved in throwing pizza, winning a jump rope contest and a successful old fashioned taffy pull. That guy should wear a Merlin hat...

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Olympia Jane

                      I can't say for sure, but the ":twisting" steps seem to be the part that's forming the individual noodles. Each "twist" would be doubling the number of individual strands in the mass of dough, and this step is repeated 8 times, which would result in 128 individual noodles being formed in the process. I imagine these would be well floured to keep them from sticking together, and the "rolling" step that takes place after the twisting would be where the separation takes place (Although a pasta dough like that would be fairly firm, you'd also need to be very careful to not put too much pressure on the noodles and merge them together.) Either way, I imagine this would be where most of the skill involved in the process would come into play.

                    2. Chef/Owner Andy Liu of Cascade Garden in Issaquah does a noodle show, demonstrating exacatly this process. Just call ahead and request it to make sure he's there and availible.

                      I believe Mandarin Cove in Portland (chef/owners are Andy's relatives) also does a similar show.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: clearskies0810

                        Went to Cascade Garden tonight and was so excited to try their 'homemade noodles'. Unfortunately, the noodles we got were definitely not hand-pulled, although they could have been made in house. But there was definitely some sort of pasta cutter involved since the noodles were square. The soup and sauce were great though.

                        Ideally, I'd be able to find a restaurant that served Noodle King's noodles with Cascade's soup or jajang.

                        So the search continues.

                      2. Had the hand pulled jia jang noodles today for lunch...I was pleasantly surprised by the nice environment inside. Very clean with dark wood tables. I had gotten the wrong address from yelp and couldn't find them, but I vowed to find it aferwards or die trying. (My brother had to go back to work and couldn't join me on this mission) I ended up getting a phonecall and wasn't able to witness the noodle-making, and being stuffed from lunch already, i took it to go for the family. Brought it home, reheated and it was still delicious. Wonderful chew to the noodles. The scallion pancakes were nothing special - reminded me of the tortilla short-cut from this month's COTM, but those noodles were heavenly. I'm planning to hit it up again on my next day off.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: soypower

                          Sadly, my return trip was not as spectacular as I hoped it would be. This time I had the spicy seafood noodle and my companions had jajang noodles, and pork noodle soup. The noodles were not as chewy this time, the soup was meh. But we did actually get to watch the hand-pulling. I think I'll have to try Cascade Garden next....