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hand-pulled noodles

djd Jan 27, 2011 09:43 PM

Read this week's NYT food section.
Am longing for noodles. East by Northeast has some version of them, I know (still haven't gone), but... where else?

(Insert comment about NYC food trends and how long they take to get to Boston.)

East by Northeast
1128 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

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  1. j
    Jenny Ondioline Jan 27, 2011 11:40 PM

    (Parry by pointing out that Boston used to have a place that had absolutely incredible hand-pulled noodles--the Noodle Alcove in Chinatown--but that it closed several years ago.)

    Honestly, one of the reasons why I have never cared for Winsor--aside from the fact that the food just isn't all that great--is that I'm still pissed that Noodle Alcove closed. God, I miss those noodles!

    7 Replies
    1. re: Jenny Ondioline
      MichaelB Jan 28, 2011 06:03 AM

      Also in the late lamented category, Gitlo's (cute, in Allston) had silver pin noodles (called silver needle noodles in the Times article) on their dim sum menu. They were pretty great. not sure if anyone in town is serving those now.

      1. re: MichaelB
        galangatron Jan 28, 2011 06:55 AM

        cambodian restaurants have silver pin noodles. most likely a stir-fry with your choice of meat, scrambled egg, and some beansprouts. the dish is called "lort cha" in khmer

        1. re: MichaelB
          makonna Jan 30, 2011 04:24 AM

          Aren't there glass noodles at most Chinatown dimsum places? I had them at Gitlo's and never thought they were any different in texture or freshness. You can probably still find them at local Chinatown dimsum places. Granted, I haven't been to dimsum in a year.

          1. re: makonna
            Allstonian Jan 30, 2011 05:26 AM

            Not sure what you mean by glass noodles. The silver pin/needle noodles certainly used to be common at the Chinatown dim sum palaces, but at the time that Gitlo's opened in the summer of 2007 I hadn't seen them anyplace in quite a few years.

            1. re: makonna
              StriperGuy Jan 30, 2011 05:31 AM

              You are confusing cellophane noodles (glass noodles) with pin noodles which are VERY different.

          2. re: Jenny Ondioline
            galangatron Jan 28, 2011 06:52 AM

            i miss the noodle alcove too

            1. re: Jenny Ondioline
              EATTV Jan 30, 2011 06:39 AM

              I totally agree. Went to the Alcove with Chef Ming Tsai years back and it became a favorite for my daughter and me. The soups were good but the real star was the hand pulled noodles stir fried with pork and vegetables, the breath of the wok and some fried chili paste. I know it is available at The Golden Mall in Flushing New York. Think they'll deliver? The Winsor doesn't really work for me. Still a fan of Taiwan Cafe and their xiao long bao on steroids. Uber bau!

            2. s
              scotty27 Jan 28, 2011 03:32 AM

              N X NE has OK noodles, but the ambition evident there does not equal the execution or service, not by a long shot. I'm wondering if some of the cute places in Allston and Brighton might have noodles.


              15 Replies
              1. re: scotty27
                Allstonian Jan 28, 2011 05:07 AM

                The "cute places in Allston" have noodles, but not of the hand-pulled variety.

                1. re: Allstonian
                  scotty27 Jan 28, 2011 05:10 AM

                  That's too bad. I had a nice plate of noodles at the Korean place inside the food court of Super 88 this week. Good glass noodles, good kimchee, chicken I wouldn't serve a stray dog: Stringy and flavorless. Served with iceberg lettuce with a spoonful of Russian dressing. All atop boiled white rice. For $8.25?


                  1. re: scotty27
                    Prav Jan 28, 2011 05:18 AM

                    Chapchae Bap?

                    1. re: Prav
                      scotty27 Jan 28, 2011 05:35 AM

                      I enjoyed Shabu Ya in the Square more.


                  2. re: Allstonian
                    fredid Jan 28, 2011 08:46 AM

                    The chef/owner/chief-bottle-washer at Unique on Harvard St in Allston made us some toothsome knife-cut noodles w/ a bit of pork...Closest I've come in Boston to my NY/Flushing hand-pulled noodles. NOTE: It's a great little place, but COLD inside, so wear a warm sweater or two in this weather!

                  3. re: scotty27
                    hckybg Jan 29, 2011 01:04 PM

                    I just don't agree with this, scotty...over the past year we have had four or five meals at East by Northeast and it has truly gotten better each time. This week we had the homemade noodles (the broad kind) in a very deep, rich beef broth, with nice tender chunks of beef and turnip. The noodles had a great ragged edge, a really nice bite. I'm a huge fan of A&J, a Northern Chinese mini-chain with two locations in the DC area owned by the ExNE chef's parents, and thought the broth really could go toe-to-toe with the amazing one at A&J. I don't think every dish at ExNE is equal to every other, but I would never say that the execution doesn't match up with the ambition. I think it is one of the most surprising places around and pretty great.

                    East by Northeast
                    1128 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

                    1. re: hckybg
                      scotty27 Jan 30, 2011 05:56 AM

                      I'll have to try it again based on what you're saying. I only went once. I'm not saying it wasn't good. It just was trying way too hard. The noodles were OK; for the price I thought it was not a good value. I love that he has a concept; it's just not close to being executed--that one visit. Also the wait staff were downright grumpy. Also they refused to deviate from the drinks menu. $12 for a half-glass of gin on ice? I may have been distracted by all these things--the whole experience--and will try the noodles again. One visit shouldn't be used to "judge" a place; you've both been 3-5x and know more.


                      1. re: scotty27
                        maillard Jan 30, 2011 06:09 AM

                        I loved the food at East by Northeast, but definitely agree that the drinks menu is ridiculous. It was super expensive and none of the drinks sounded that good. This was awhile ago, though, so maybe things have improved drinks-wise? If not, I'll just grab a drink at Trina's (which has great drinks, but in my experience inedibly salty food) and then go to ExNE for food.

                        East by Northeast
                        1128 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

                        1. re: scotty27
                          hckybg Jan 30, 2011 09:14 AM

                          Definitely try it again. Besides my own experience having been pretty consistent and stronger over the last year, I think it is also a pretty important place because of that ambition. You can get great New American at a dozen or two dozen places in town, and I do love a good rendition of a hanger steak or roast chicken, but what I like so much about East by Northeast is that he has departed fully from that time-tested, proven approach. He changes the menu constantly, works in seasonal ingredients as well as traditional Asian flavors, and experiments. I do think that someone like that deserves a little extra tolerance. As tatsu said below, it's a gutsy place.

                          1. re: hckybg
                            scotty27 Jan 30, 2011 10:01 AM

                            I will definitely try it and report back.

                        2. re: hckybg
                          tatsu Jan 30, 2011 06:06 AM

                          I took a girl from Beijing there, she did not like it. The deep rich broths don't seem to work to well with the noodles IMO. Sometimes I think the "classic" versions are better, sometimes the dishes are interesting. The value is ok, their's nothing wrong about the service. I admire him for trying to do something different with his training, experiences and background. It takes guts to do that.

                          It's not my favorite place in the world, but I wouldn't insult N by NE it like Scotty did.

                          1. re: tatsu
                            scotty27 Jan 30, 2011 06:55 AM

                            I'm not insulting the restaurant by describing honestly my experience there. I also agree that classic trumps innovation.

                        3. re: scotty27
                          autopi Jan 29, 2011 08:01 PM

                          i pretty strongly disagree. i've been to N X NE 3 or 4 times now, and find the noodles to be quite strong. i don't recall any service issues on my visits either.

                          1. re: scotty27
                            beantown79 Apr 7, 2012 11:55 AM

                            I'm surprised to hear a bad review of ExNE...when was the last time you were there? Your review was dated almost a year and a half ago, I'm sure much has changed since then! My roommates and I go all the time and the service is amazing, they remember us each and every time and are super friendly and helpful. The cocktails aren't $12 they are $9 and well worth it. They are such a small space it makes sense that they cannot accommodate a "full bar", where would they put it? I always get the number 5 cocktail and request that they use vodka instead of gin and they have always been accommodating, never "grumpy". They were voted one of Bostons Best this past year...so if you are basing your opinion of ExNE on one dinner a year and a half ago...maybe you should give it another try?

                            1. re: beantown79
                              marcreichman Apr 7, 2012 06:16 PM

                              The thread is that old.

                          2. greygarious Apr 7, 2012 07:21 AM

                            Despite its name, the star at Gene's Chinese Flatbread Cafe, in Chelmsford, is the wide, long, handpulled noodles of western China, which you can watch being made in the kitchen. This is a mostly take-out, waiterless hole-in-the-wall which has a handful of regional dishes in addition to several dishes (e.g.crab rangoon) that are ubiquitous in Americanized Chinese restaurants.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: greygarious
                              crowdingthepan Apr 7, 2012 07:34 AM

                              The owner told me that they added the americanized side of the menu after a number of locals came in, saw the biang biang mian, liang pi, and flatbreads, and asked why they didn't serve Chinese food. Ha!

                              1. re: crowdingthepan
                                grant.cook Apr 7, 2012 08:23 AM

                                I know - they had a pu pu platter menu up.. sort of feel bad most chinese places are forced to fit the stereotype.

                            2. MC Slim JB Apr 7, 2012 08:15 PM

                              China King in Chinatown, which marks the return of the original King Fung Garden folks, is making its own noodles. I'm not discriminating enough to comment on their quality, but have really enjoyed a couple of versions of them, listed as chow mein on the English menu. Excellent pan-fried dumplings, too. Am hoping to try the Peking duck, in the traditional 3-course presentation, as soon as I can plan 24 hours ahead.


                              1 Reply
                              1. re: MC Slim JB
                                Jenny Ondioline Apr 7, 2012 11:01 PM

                                Allstonian and I went to China King last night for the first time and were pleased and touched that Doris, who runs the front of house, recognized us almost immediately (were were regular customers at the old KFG) and stopped by twice to say how nice it was to see old friends from the former location. That was really nice of her.

                                I am pleased to report that not only are the Shanghai noodles, scallion pie and lamb with scallion as exemplary as always, the pan-fried Peking ravs may be even better than they were at King Fung Garden.

                                That was a heavy meal for sure, but we had to visit all our old friends, so to speak. We'll be trying the lighter items on the menu next time. I'm just pleased to have such an old favorite back.

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