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Mar 29, 2010 10:55 AM

NOODLE EXPRESS 101 new menu items... Props to Chandavkl for finding "TASTE OF BEIJING" in Rowland heights... OR, Beijing Mustard Cabbage..... jie mo dui... FINALLY!! (But... NO!)

Many thanks to chandavkl's for pointing out this place...

We don't get out to Rowland Heights nearly as often as we would like, so the fact that the Anza-Borrego wildflower routes you right through RH is an added bonus.

We had never been to Diamond Plaza (or the indoor mini-mall "Plaza Walk" way in the back. Felt like a long, skinny version of Focus Plaza in San Gabriel. It's got a funny entrance.... the easiest way to get there is to exit Fullerton road from the 60 east and continue straight ahead (do not turn onto Fullerton). It feels like you're going to go back onto the 60 east, but you're actually driving right into the Diamond Plaza shopping mall. Drive all the way to the back and look for the enclosed "Plaza Walk" area-- the furthest building in the back. In the rear of Plaza Walk is a food court with several restaurants which each have carnie-style barkers trying to get you to come in to their particular area. This is where the Rowland Heights branch of Noodle Express 101 is, as well as the chou doufu of Canaan, which we had only seen previously at the Taiwan festival near Olvera St. a couple of years back.

You can't miss "Taste of Beijing" on the left side as you enter. All of the servers are wearing Chinese costume jackets and you have to walk under a faux temple archway to enter their food court area. (Usually this much "Chinesiness" is reserved for establishments that cater to a lao wai focused clientele).

My Lovely Tasting Assistant (LTA) and I were delighted to observe that the yang rou chuan (charcoal grilled lamb skewers seasoned with cayenne and cumin) are the bargain basement price of $1 each, as are the chicken gizzards (interesting to note that Noodle Express 101 next door has lowered their prices to compete). We snapped up several of those, and the seasoning was very nice.... a great spicy kick with a punch of cumin, well balanced and the texture was right. (Noodle Express 101's yrc were decidedly worse.... the seasoning was pulverized into a grainy powder which made for an unpleasant sandy texure, and the punch was more heat and less cumin flavor). The real winner was the chicken wing skewer...... altogether different from the yrc, with a mildly sweet taste and heat. We devoured these too quickly.... I'll need to go back and take flavor/spice notes next time. Do yourself a favor and go there now and order the wings.

We were shocked to see that on the menu was the ever elusive hot mustard cabbage that my LTA and I consumed with fervor and ferocity (and other fantastically flamboyant falliterative fadjectives) during our 3 weeks in Beijing in 2006.

It's tantalizingly advertised on TOB's menu as "wasabi cabbage". Good lord..... could this be what we've been looking for lo these 3.5 years? But wait a second, why is it crossed off the menu with not a single, but a double strikethru? We ask the server... "We used to sell it, but nobody ordered it." ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! This dish in Beijing was for us our most outrageously deliciously masochistic meal experience ever... the sinus heat in this mustard was the stuff of legend... the kind of thing that villagers would use to ward off evil spirits. We have a video somewhere of my LTA taking a bite of it and you can see her face visibly flush within a few seconds. I wish I could find it. Alas it was not to be..... still, I may need to talk with the owner and see if I can get a special one prepared.

The other two dishes we ordered were tasty... a very good rendition of jia jiang mian... or perhaps it was so good was because I still had recent painful memories of the flavorless muck at Mandarin House in Koreatown.... Noodles were clearly handmade, rough uneven, noodles (about double the width of linguine) with a decent chew. Good stuff. The last dish we ordered was... hm, I forget. A relatively bland milky soup of tofu, veggies and mifen, which was inexplicably served with a couple of rounds pan fried bread (which was nice and chewy, lightly salty, but not crispy at all). This is one of those dishes that translates well when you're used to it or have grown up on it, but for those of us expecting more flavor bang-for-your-buck, it falls flat. I've adapted some of my expectations to fall more in line with my LTA's experiences (she is from Taiwan) and so I now find these kinds of flavorless soups kind of refreshing. However, others will find them boring and bland.

Perhaps the most astounding thing about this meal, which could serve 3 people comfortably, was the price. $16 before tip. Outrageous! Even if you just go for the chicken wings and yrc, this is an unbelievable deal... the fact that they do have some other very good items on the menu is even better.

On the way back home, we stopped at Noodle Express 101 in the food court... as stated before, skip the yrc. We went because we were intrigued by this idea of "Hand Torn Noodles" on their "new menu" card, which we couldn't get a precise description of from our server. No, they are not dough sliced noodles (dao shao mian). No, they are not hand pulled noodles (la mian). They are literally translated as hand torn noodles, but nobody can tell us what that means. So we order them in a vegetable soup...... these are wonderful. Similar to dao shao mian, but longer and thicker... supremely chewy. They serve these also in a lamb noodle soup which we did not try, but you certainly could.

Perhaps someone can chime in as to whether or not the San Gabriel location also has this "new menu" item of hand torn noodles? We do have some photos.... we'll post them sometime soon.

Mr Taster

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  1. Sounds wonderful Mr. Taster. Is there directions for us non-60 fwy people to use? Something like coming over the hill on Fullerton Rd/Harbor Blvd.

    Thanks for the tastyy review! :-)

    2 Replies
    1. re: SeaCook

      Go up Fullerton Road. Right turn into the shopping center right before the Shell station and freeway on ramp.

      1. re: Chandavkl

        Thanks Chandavkl. I can visualize where that is.

    2. The original comment has been removed
      1. Finally uploaded a couple of photos... check out the spread, and remember-- it was $16.

        Mr Taster

        2 Replies
        1. re: Mr Taster

          Looks tasty Mr. Taster! I am going to try and go there this weekend.

          1. re: SeaCook

            Please be sure to check back in.

            I'm rather disappointed that this thread has dropped off the radar over the past few days. Especially when you consider the outstanding $ value of the $1 sticks, chowhounds should be beating down their door (or the faux-temple archway, as the case may be).

            Come on chowhounds, let's boost this place. Order the lamb, gizzard and especially the heavenly chicken wing skewers and post back.

            Mr Taster

        2. ... and here's the menu.

          Oh wasabi cabbage, will you haunt me for the rest of my days???

          Mr Taster

          3 Replies
          1. re: Mr Taster

            Now you've got me wanting this too, Mr. Taster. Perhaps we could alternate going in to encourage them to put it on the menu...or at least make it for us?

            The number of lined through items on the menu concerns me. Any thoughts on that?

            1. re: JThur01

              I know.... it is rather disconcerting that there are so many "failed items" on the menu

              Seriously, I think we Chowhounds need to go en masse and request that wasabi mustard cabbage. if it is anything like the stuff we had in Beijing, which is to say about 50 times stronger than the mustard at Philippe's, it will be a truly revelatory thing to a lot of LA Chowhounds. It was sinus-blowing insanity on a vegetable.

              One interesting thing I forgot to note... the signature lamb backbone soup (the only $20 item on the menu) translates in chinese to something like "scorpion soup". Anyone with even a passing familiarity with Beijing's Wangfujing Dajie knows all about those scorpions on sticks that they sell to tourists, so we asked if there really were actual scorpions in the soup. "No, they lamb backbone just looks like a scorpion tail." Ha. I just love the density of Chinese menus... my LTA (a native Chinese speaker/reader) sometimes needs to look at the English side of the menu to figure out what it actually is.


              Mr Taster

            2. re: Mr Taster

              I may be the only one looking for it, but I'm extremely happy to now be able to proudly proclaim.....



              Mr Taster

            3. Ok traffic on Hacienda Blvd forbade me going my normal route so I thought what the heck go up Fullerton Rd and detour to Mr. Taster’s new fav Flavor of Beijing. Sure enough there , in Plaza Walk, was the kitschy Chinese gate with servers in Chinese jackets. I looked at the menu and saw the kebab MT mentioned and the chicken wings. I ordered 3 of each. I then looked for a cold dish to balance out the heat of the wings and kabob so I ordered the Chinese salad thinking it would be the pickled cabbage that I normally see at Northern Chinese restaurants. Then I saw bacon pancake. Wait! Bacon?1 Pancake?! Bacon and pancake?!! Like a green onion pancake but with bacon?!!!!! I love bacon and I love Chinese version of it. And I love Chinese pancake. So I ordered it. All of this was ordered to go.
              As I waited one of the servers graciously brought me tea. It refreshed me. As my order was packed I was puzzled by how many containers and the variety was being packed. I wanted to ask why but was feeling I would be rude to ask. So I took my order. The smell of the cumin & cayenne was so irresistible I had to take a bit before I left. OMG the lamb kebob was delicious! The spice! the heat! the smokiness of the cumin! Thumbs up Mr. Taster!
              When I got home I unpacked my order. The Chinese salad turned out to be a salad mix like one can get at the 99 cent store with peanuts and cucumbers added. It was already dress and while the dressing was good the salad was already wilting. Oh well trying something new is always a hit or miss. What I thought would be the bacon pancake turned out to be rice porridge (no problem I like rice porridge), a small container with the Chinese bacon and some shredded green onion, a small container of a salty black sauce (no idea what it is) and a container of plain Chinese style pancake (sans green onion) While disappointed it wasn’t the bacon pancake my mind envisioned it wasn’t anything that I would snub.
              I ate the kabob and chicken wings for dinner using some of the pancake as bread for the kabob making little sandwiches. It worked perfectly especially with Newcastle brown ale. Now I want to try the rice porridge with its accompaniments but I have to idea how to assemble it. Is anyone familiar with this dish and could tell me who to eat it? The elements are intriguing to me and it seems together they’d be very tasty.
              I do recommend Flavor of Beijing and plan to go back. The food I had was tasty even though I was unfamiliar with what I ordered. But that’s what being a Chowhound is all about trying the unfamiliar knowing it may be great or it may be terrible. It’s being able to go into the unknown and learning about food and culture.

              Flavor of Beijing
              1388 Fullerton Rd, Rowland Heights, CA 91748