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Can anyone help id these noodles?

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I'm hoping someone here can help me out. I just got back from my first trip to Hong Kong and am already craving a chili noodle soup dish I had at Crystal Jade at Harbour City in Kowloon. I am almost certain that it was item #72, but am unable to find a menu on their website (http://www.crystaljade.com/hongkong.htm) or elsewhere online to get a name. I live in Orange County, CA and am hoping to either find something close or a recipe so I can make it at home. I believe Crystal Jade has a location in LA, but I am holding off making the trek until I have time for a day trip. The noodle soup was medium spicy (maybe chili paste?) and had a rich broth with sesame seeds and green onions. There was no obvious meat in it, but it may possibly had some fish sauce or broth. Seriously, this was one of the best, comfort noodle soups I have had in my life and am really ready to repeat the experience!

 
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  1. Looks like Sichuanese dan dan noodles, done the proper way (meatless). My favorite one in Hong Kong is at Wing Lai Yuen.

    3 Replies
    1. re: K K

      Thanks, it seems that most of the dan dan noodles I see are done with pork, so I have hope to hear some are not. Are dan dan noodles made as a soup ever?

      I have seen "lai mein" a few places and that seems to ring a bell. Could that be a possibility?

      I am hopelessly ignorant and am trying to bring myself up to speed quickly. I am thinking I may start lurking at Chinese restaurants and trying all the spicy noodle soups!

      1. re: fachowna

        The dan dan noodles here in Sichuan come with pork as default. Some places do offer vegetarian versions, but the dan dan noodles here are NEVER soupy (and I don't recognize them at all in the picture and from your description - they are not 'fishy' either). If these are dan dan they must be some other region's version.

        1. re: fachowna

          "I have seen "lai mein" a few places and that seems to ring a bell. Could that be a possibility?"

          You actually had Lan Zhou style hand pulled noodles (lai meen or la mien) in that bowl of dan dan noodles.

      2. KK appears to be correct.

        Take a look at the last picture in this blog post:

        http://ggmu.blogspot.com/2008/02/kl-m...

        2 Replies
        1. re: Condimentality

          That last pic DOES look like what I ate. Google translated that section to read:

          6. Sichuan dan dan noodles - peanut oil taste espresso, Blessed are those who love peanut, sweet peanut soup cut direct Chili, and up to belong to ordinary Chili acceptable level, only a little buzz . ramen noodles are eaten up by artificial unity relatively Q, have more bite. I would recommend for the necessary test materials

          Not entirely sure what that means!

          pepper_mil, I probably shouldn't have mentioned that it might contain fish sauce since it actually did not taste fishy at all. I just meant that I don't know if it truly was vegetarian although it seemed to be.

          Maybe dan dan noodles are different depending on region? Hmm...

          1. re: fachowna

            It pretty mostly talks about how the soup has a strong and sweet peanut oil taste that cuts the initial spicyness of the dish and will please peanut lovers.

        2. There is a little bit of a debate whether this bowl is considered "authentic" Sichuanese dan dan noodles (and unfortunately I never had the real thing or been to Sichuan), as this looks and tastes absolutely NOTHING like what I've had at any half decent non Americanized Sichuan restaurant in California, but if you go to a place like Wing Lai Yuen HK, their preparation is somewhat similar to Crystal Jade's. www.winglaiyuen.com.hk is the website and you will see a similar colored looking bowl (the home page claims it is a sour and spicy noodle bowl, but the signature dish is their dan dan noodles in peanut/sesame broth).

          Wing Lai Yuen is also one of the older Sichuan style restaurants in Hong Kong (family owned, now 3rd generation I think?) and it can also be argued that they started the variant of dan dan noodles without pork and serving the noodles in a rich peanut / sesame broth.
          Thus I would not be surprised at numerous spinoffs, like Crystal Jade's version that looks somewhat similar, and thus making this prep the norm. In some weird ways, the green onion pancake in Hong Kong is crispy and multi layered almost like a croissanwich (with a gazillion layer of scallions) but in the USA, the green onion pancakes at non Cantonese restaurants are thin almost crepe like pancakes, something I never got over.
          The other possibility is that you had Za Zhang Mien (Ja Jeung Meen) or fried bean paste noodles. I saw a photo of that bowl featured under the Crystal Jade listing on my coworker's copy of "Local Delicacies", a brochure published by the HK Tourism office of where to eat (Wing Lai Yuen was recommended as well). Of course these are big name, known, famous, consistent quality type joints for out of town visitors..

          So from reading that brochure, I also learn that Crystal Jade is also famous for Lanzhou style hand pulled noodles, so you actually had an award winning combination, best of both worlds, where there was a ton of effort put into this very bowl (ie spectacular pairing of fresh noodles and a spectacular broth). Consider yourself extremely blessed. You may want to check the Los Angeles chowhound board for a Dan Dan noodles thread, but I am willing to bet nothing recommended there would come close to what you had, simply because it's not what most US based Chinese food hounds would come to expect.

          4 Replies
          1. re: K K

            Dan dan mien comes in all varieties and shapes -- all of which can be considered "authentic" to one degree or another. Dan dan mien is basically peasant, street food -- and made with the barest and cheapest ingredients.

            Think of mac 'n cheese as an American equivalent. Some mac 'n cheese can be creamy (even a bit "soupy") others can be much denser and crusted nicely under a hot broiler, while others go further with a nice breadcrumb topping. All iterations would be considered "authentic" by any stretch of the imagination.

            And so it is with dan dan mien. some iterations will be more decorated than others with veggies and pork, and others will be drier or soupier than others. It just depends.

            1. re: K K

              Sigh...I guess this will just have to remain a fond memory and a reason to go back to Hong Kong. It was truly a spectacular bowl of spicy goodness, Thanks, all! :)

              1. re: fachowna

                There are some great versions of dan dan mian in the LA area. None that I've seen are quite as soupy as the photo someone linked to above, but you should be able to find something good. More appropriate for the LA board, but you can check out this thread:
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/675393

                1. re: will47

                  Thanks, I will definitely check that out!

            2. Also I'm reading that the soup stock used for Crystal Jade noodle soup is made with pork tailbones, Chinese Jin Hua/Gum Wah ham, mature (old/aged) chicken, and dried tangerine peel to give the whole noodle bowl the needed boost.

              Wing Lai Yuen does that too with their dan dan noodle broth too; there's an equivalent amount of serious hardcore effort in their stock. There's also a "improved" version that they label as "modern dan dan noodles" in English, that uses sesame instead of peanut, and you can add pork on top.

              The Chinese wikipedia entry for dan dan noodles is shockingly short, literally a small paragraph or two...