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Nov 27, 2010 05:49 PM

Lan Zhou Zheng Zong La Mian 兰州正宗牛肉拉面 – Interesting Chinese Muslim Hand Pulled Noodles

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Lan Zhou Zheng Zong La Mian (兰州正宗牛肉拉面 ) was a place we happened to just stop by when I was in Shanghai, my friend and I were looking for something quick to eat by his apartment and we stopped by this place because it looked interesting and it was really close to his apartment. It was a run down little shop that had lots of pictures inside with all of their dishes.
I’m not sure where the guys who ran the place were from, but I’m pretty sure they weren’t Han Chinese as they looked sort of Chinese, but were darker in complexion and looked more Central Asian. They also spoke a very strange dialect that I’ve never heard before and were Muslim.

The menu read like a typical Lan Zhou type noodle soup shop, but the spicing was way different than normal Chinese spicing.

Here’s what we got:
- Red Braised Beef Noodle Soup (Hong Shao Niu Rou Mian): The noodles were freshly hand-pulled and had a very good al dente texture. The broth and the meat were way different in the way they spiced them. They had a lot of different spices in them including cumin, it really didn’t even taste Chinese; the flavor was much more almost Middle Eastern or Central Asian. It was very interesting. I thought it was a bit too salty and the beef wasn’t quite as tender as it should be, but overall it was reasonably tasty. I would say that I prefer the regular style though all things being equal.
- Stir Fried Knife Cut Noodles (Chao Dao Shao Mian): my friend got this dish, it was stir fried knife cut noodles. The noodles were very good again and were cut a bit on the thick side, but I liked them that way. The sauce was exactly the same sauce that was in the beef noodle soup I had. It was a bit on the salty side as well, but I thought it was a bit better than my beef noodle soup.
- Scrambled Egg With Tomato (Xi Hong Shi Chao Ji Dan): this is a pretty typical dish in Taiwan, but they probably make it in China as well. We ordered it because we both like the dish. The preparation was similar to normal, but the spicing was quite a bit different again utilizing the same spices that were in the other two dishes. This was probably the best dish of the three, doesn’t look like much, but it was good.

Overall, it wasn’t amazing, but it was pretty good. It was definitely interesting as it was unlike any noodle place I’ve ever been to. I forgot what the address as.

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  1. Usually these places in Shanghai are run by by Hui minorities:

    7 Replies
    1. re: scoopG

      they were probably hui, but im pretty sure they were some type of minority, they were not chinese

      1. re: Lau

        I remember that 兰州拉面 LanZhouHandPulled noodle shops from my college years in Shanghai in the flea market areas. It's where the muslim minorities could get Halal assured food. Now it is l a chain that's all over China (bigger than McDonald's or KFC). I remember seeing their blue signs dotting the hwy in the Tibetan regions of Sichuan. The one you went to may be one of those with standard laminated menus - like those in Hokienese Chinese fast food places in America. Most of the franchise were said run by Hui folks from Qinghai, most of whom have central asian and/or mongol ancestry.

        There are a lot of Chinese don't look Han (which is probably what you meant by Chinese). Though the definition of Han is another murky topic - a friend of mine from Shanghai insists labeling himself Wu based on his DNA signatures (closer to Hmong than Han). ;) I have a friend specialized in anthropology who claims that he can judge a Chinese's ethnicity or his ancestry by facial features.

        1. re: Ting Ting

          interesting, didn't know it was a chain b/c it looked so run down that i figured it was their own shop, they didn't really have a menu, everything was on the wall with lots of pics

          minorities in china is an interesting subject, some of the minorities i remember seeing in chengdu looked (and dressed) way different than everyone else, i remember thinking how interesting it was

          1. re: Lau

            definitely not a chain, though they tend to all have variations of the same poster on their wall and typically have similar menus.

            1. re: modernleifeng

              It's not your typical chain in American franchise sense - it's a government sponsored poverty-relief project by Hualong county, Qinghai... :)
              Search 青海化隆 兰州拉面

                1. re: Ting Ting

                  pretty interesting article...had no idea about the illegal gun thing

                  there is sort of the same thing going on in the NY, there are a ton of 兰州拉面 that sprouted up, but none of them are hualong people, they are all fujian immigrants. i remember reading somewhere that a few of them actually went to lan zhou for a while to train and then ended up moving to the US