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Mar 14, 2010 11:07 AM

101 Noodle Express

Adding what is possibly the 101st post about 101 Noodle Express. I've been gone from LA for a few years, but I've moved back and I have to tell you that the one food item I missed the most (of many) was the beef roll and the first restaurant trip I took was to this spot. As it turns out, niu rou juan bing 牛肉捲餅 is actually kinda hard to find. If any of the LA hounds from a few years ago might remember, I fetishize that. Bring me the hard to find stuff! And it wasn't all about nostalgia, too: I got to take a few first timers there as well, so it was a combination of discovery and re-discovery.

My friends and I started off with one of those shrink-wrapped liang ban cold mix appetizers in the deli case, which featured slivers of tofu, dried pork (almost certain it was pig ears but I could be mistaken) and scallions. It was a nice way to break the ice all around, as I've begun to really appreciate cold/roomtemp apps that still have a bit of kick to them.

Then the beef roll came, and it was a joy seeing the revelation on my dining partners' faces. I've long described the beef roll as a slightly thicker crepe, with sliced braised beef, scallions, cilantro, and a hoisin-like sauce, all rolled up like a Chinese burrito. Luckily, pictures are worth a thousand words, and tasting the beef roll is worth a thousand more.

A friend in the party was a little congested, so we went for the hot and spicy niu rou mian. Someone mentioned that it reminded them of the boat noodles at Sapp Coffee Shop, and I totally see the comparison: a star anise broth, good spice, nice beef. I do want to begin exploring the niu rou mian of the San Gabriel Valley, so I figure this was good a start as any. As it stands now, I can't say how it rates among other niu rou mian variants, but it was definitely delicious and I'd recommend it to any visitor of 101.

Lastly, the dumplings arrived, and we sprung for the super succulent pork with pickled vegetables. The veg were finely diced and rolled into the pork ball, giving it a nice sour note with each bite, and while it wasn't a soup dumpling, there were more than a few explosive moments between the dumpling and I. Rather than pouring some mix of soy or vinegar, I just dipped the dumplings in the hot and spicy broth that was available.

Four dishes added up to a few coins short of $25, feeding three hungry people pretty well. There was a slight wait, but nothing out of the ordinary for a weekend. It's good to be back, and I'm thrilled I finally got to satisfy a craving a few years in the making.

101 Noodle Express
1408 E Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91801

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  1. SS, glad to see you're back in LA - I truly miss your posts. We've done a fair amount of time at 101 as well and really enjoy that beef roll as well as their niu rou mian. The pickled vegetable condiment goes well with everything, but I am extra generous with it on the beef roll - only after I've taken a few bites neat. We really like their dumplings, but have been trying other places that do a mighty great job. You might give JTYH on Valley in Rosemead a try. It's smaller, a bit neater, and the food in general hits a chord with my wife and me. The knife cut noodles are the way to go - thanks again, Ipsedixit - and the dumplings are worthy of your palate. I don't know if you've ever experienced the cat fights that seem to occur at 10 with some frequency - quite the epic battle some times - but the folks at JTYH are far more laid back. :)

    If I recall, you were up in the Northwest - I am sure they will miss you as we have down in LA for a few. Again, welcome back!

    1. Hi SauceSupreme,

      Okaeri~ :). I'm so glad you're back in So Cal! :) It's good for the LA Board to get back one of their long-time Chowhound veterans. Welcome back~ (^_^)/

      1. I should add that the beef roll is also available at Dumpling 10053. Of course I only know that because of my extensive photo collection, and I have no recollection of what it tasted like. Next time I'm in El Monte (!) I'll swing by.

        9 Replies
        1. re: SauceSupreme

          Beef roll is now pretty much ubiquitous in nearly any Chinese/Taiwanese restaurant in the SGV that has any type of dumpling or noodle dish on the menu.

          1. re: ipsedixit

            While the Beef Roll is pretty common in the SGV area, few get it right and none do it better than 101NE that I've tasted thus far.

            1. re: darrelll

              Actually, I would say that Michelle's, Dean Sin World, LIang's, JTYH and even Noodle House make a better version.

              1. re: ipsedixit

                I enjoyed JTYH, and while I liked Dean Sin World's, I found it "different," in that the fillings were cold. My wife prefers this style. I prefer 101 NE's style maybe because it was first beef roll that I tried. Will put Michelle's, Llang's and Noodle House on the list. Thank you.

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  I like the one at Mama's Kitchen, now on Valley just a few doors over from 101.

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    We tried the beef rolls at 101NE, Mama's Kitchen, and Kam Hong, and for my personal taste, I like the ones at Hong Yei the best.

              2. re: SauceSupreme

                SS, have you been to Dumpling 10053 lately? I believe there was a change of ownership last year, and I was underwhelmed when I visited last September. Maybe things have improved since then.

                1. re: Peripatetic

                  No, my last visit was years ago. Not likely I'm going to end up in El Monte any time soon, but stranger drives have happened. (I once drove from Oxnard to Donut Man in Glendora.)

                  1. re: Peripatetic

                    I agree with Peripatetic.

                    On my last visit, Dumpling 10053 had already changed owners and we were underwhelmed by all of the dishes we ordered (2 types of Dumplings, Steamed Spareribs and 2 other items).