Out of town friend NEEDS old school cold sesame noodles!
I'm talking about the kind that used to be available in every generic chinese place, thick and peanutbuttery tasting. This is the one thing she craves most when she comes to town and I just don't know where to find it anymore. Most places that have it now serve a thinner sauce. Can anyone help me? Doesn't even have to be great, just has to be what she remembers. Please help! This poor girl lives in the midwest now, and is not able to get many things. We try to find everything she wants on her once yearly visit. Please help! She's coming this weekend.
I have a friend who now lives in San Francisco. He insists on ordering sesame noodles from Empire Szechuan on Greenwich whenever he visits. So maybe that's a good choice. I don't see what's so special about these particular sesame noodles, but maybe you have to leave town for their greatness to be revealed.
15 Greenwich Ave, New York, NY 10014
I had an excellent version (probably the best I've ever had) from Shorty Tang's stand in Williamsburg at the Smorgasburg Fair (it's there every Saturday). I realize this is not Manhattan... but I also have been having this craving recently and can't seem to find them elsewhere.
I live directly across from this wonderful take-only place...everything on their menu is superb.
Also love the cold sesame noodles from Tang's Garden (used to be called Tang Tang)
Huge portion for $5.50
1328 Third Ave. - 76th Street [on the corner]
1328 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10021
I second the Smorgasburg cold noodles. It's a family recipe from the family credited with originating the dish (?) but it's a little different in that black pepper takes over for the garlic, and there's plenty of sauce, but it's not particularly thick. It's not the best I've ever had, but it's the best I've had in a really long time, and they make it fresh.
The cheaper takeout places seem to do best with this dish too.
Jimmy's House does a decent, peanut sauce heavy version. I wouldn't eat there normally though.
162 E 25th St, New York, NY 10010
Shorty Tang & Sons is run by two grandsons of Shorty Tang, who was supposed to have the best sesame noodle recipe in town back in the day.
ETA: I see that mrmrmrmr and I crossposted!
Would you or your friend be up for making some? Living in an area of the country with a dearth of good Chinese restaurants, I did a few experiments to try and duplicate NYC-style peanut noodles (a la Empire Szechuan 1989) at home. It turns out they are so cheap and easy, it's not even funny. Besides the noodles, which are just regular Chinese egg noodles prepped in advanced and allowed to chill, there are only three ingredients and some water to thin:
UNSWEETENED PEANUT BUTTER (can use tahini if preferred)
CHINESE BLACK VINEGAR (sometimes called Chinkiang or Chekiang vinegar)
SOY SAUCE (best to use a good quality Tamari or Shoyu)
Start with about a quarter cup of peanut butter, add a splash of soy and several splashes of Black Vinegar and tweak until it tastes like you want it to, adding water as needed.
I usually add some chili-garlic paste as well and top with scallion and matchstick cucumber, but the above ingredients alone make a great approximation of old school peanut noodles. You can add a little honey if you prefer a sweet version. The key really is the Black VInegar -- no substitutions will work nearly as well. It's available in most well-stocked Asian groceries and even on Amazon.com.
The cold sesame noodles by Shorty Tang and Sons at Brooklyn's Saturday Smorgasburg supposedly follows the original recipe created by famed New York City Szechuan chef, Shorty Tang at Hwa Yuan Szechuan Inn in the 60s. Shorty has been credited in creating the original and best cold sesame noodles in New York City. I have had the reprise edition from his grandsons or sons?, its pretty delicious although I wish it had more "Ma-La"
If you can't make it into Brooklyn here our some links to recreate the dish but for the old schoolers I think its worth making the trek down to get this 30 something year old original version that has only recently seen the light again.
Arthur Schwartz has his version on the Shorty Tang cold sesame noodles dish and a bit of history of the dish and Shorty Tang:
The New York Times history of the dish, old school NYC chinese food scene and recipe:
The carriers of the torch: Shorty Tang and Sons