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Aug 9, 2011 03:51 PM

Hand pulled noodles in the East Bay?

Looking for fresh hand pulled noodles in the East Bay, preferably Oakland/Berkeley. I was in Vancouver recently and was at a noodle shop where you could watch the chef pull the noodles and boil them fresh for each order. He was also hand making green onion cakes. It was a great show and delicious. I would love to find a similar place here if it exists.

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  1. I'm not sure they make a show of it, but The Ark and Shan Dong.

    Shan Dong Mandarin Restaurant
    328 10th St, Oakland, CA 94607

    Ark Chinese
    1405 Park St, Alameda, CA 94501

    4 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      The chef at Ark pulls the noodles to order and does it in front of the dinning room. In fact you can request the shape of the noodles, round, square and triangle. It a show, just like in Vancouver. Shan Dong do not make it noodles in front of the dinning room, at least not any time I have been there.

      Shan Restaurant
      5251 Stevens Creek Blvd, Santa Clara, CA 95051

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Shan Dong's noodles are hand-made / hand-cut, but not hand pulled.

        Ark does make a show of it and they are hand-pulled. You can see the chef behind a glass wall doing his thing.

        1. re: drewskiSF

          here's some video I took today of the hand cutting of noodles at Shan Dong in Oakland which I've seen them do in the afternoon at about 3 or 4 pm

          1. re: zippo

            Great video. I love Shan Dong and I really enjoyed seeing this.

      2. There was a show at Shan Dong House in San Francisco.

        1. Doesn't the Imperial Tea Court in Berkeley have handmade noodles?

          Just curious if you went to Shao-Lin in Vancouver or someplace else.

          Imperial Tea Court
          1411 Powell St, San Francisco, CA 94133

          5 Replies
          1. re: david kaplan

            I'm a big fan of the handmade noodles at the Imperial Tea Court in Berkeley. I had them last weekend. Go downstairs to Lush Gelato for dessert. I think someone pointed out that these are not *pulled* noodles.

            1. re: Martin Strell

              I'm not sure that they are "hand-made" either. It's been a while since I've been there. I was facing the counter behind where there were 2 middle age chinese ladies who were doing the prep. I saw them take out some noodles from a tray, they were pre cut, but were still connected at the ends, the whole thing looking like a small square or rectangle. The ladies stretched them out a bit and then proceeded with the rest of hte prep.

              Others have mentioned that there's a noodle machine at some of the other places mentioned. These were certainly tasty noodles, the thickness of udon with just the right amount of chewiness. I'm guessing that they were pre-made with one of those machines...

              1. re: Dawgmommy

                I've actually watched as they make the noodles by hand in the past, but I admit I haven't seen this recently. My guess is that they are still made by hand, but made in advance.

                1. re: Martin Strell

                  Yup, as your old post showed, they're still making hand-pulled noodles.

                  I watched the chef make them today. They flatten out a rectangle of dough with a rolling pin, indent the flattened piece with the pin, slice off horizontal lengths of dough, and then pull the flattened dough outward while slapping its center on the table. Once it reaches the maximum length, they tear off lengths of wide noodles from end to end. This is a different technique than what they do at Ark, which produces noodles by spinning the dough around, and repeatedly dividing the dough in half until thin strands appear.

                  They serve the noodles either with beef or chicken. We went with the beef which had a nice broth. The noodles had a nice chew to them, but they were irregular enough in thickness that some bites were almost raw. A dish costs $15.

                  Anyone know what the name (traditional Chinese and pinyin) of this kind of hand pulled noodle is and how it differs from the one that's made by dividing the dough in two?

          2. the ark's hand pulling "show" leaves a lot to be desired. their noodles aren't the same as other who rigorously twirl the noodles, not just rolling the dough across a wooden board.

            am not aware shan dong does hand pull noodles.

            my choices for hand pulled noodles:
            san wang post st. s.f.
            san dong house geary? s.f.
            san tung irving st. s.f.
            everyday beijing san mateo
            tong dumpling milpitas
            qq noodle milpitas, fremont

            21 Replies
            1. re: shanghaikid

              have you tried Palace Chef in Fremont ? it seems to be popular with the fans of Shan Dong (Korean cross-influenced) cooking and we loved their noodles.

              Palace Chef
              4370 Thornton Ave, Fremont, CA 94536

              1. re: moto

                yes, forgot about them. typical shan dong rendition. (korean chinese) similiar to aan wang , san tung, et al. pretty good.

                qq noodle up the street has more varieties of fixings/broths/ you can have.

              2. re: shanghaikid

                Everyday Beijing's noodles I do not think are hand pulled. Beijing Restaurant in San Francisco offers a somewhat similar but superior in quality version of the same noodles, which I believe the Beijing Restaurant owners from the Alameda location once referred to the noodles as 手打 (shou da) vs (shou la) 手拉/ hand pulled. Shou Da refers more to being made by hand (although does not say whether hand cut or machine cut), but no pulling is involved.

                By the way fresh in house made udon and soba is also labeled as 手打, and is a common label to market them as such in Japanese restaurants in Taiwan.

                Everyday Beijing
                637 South B Street, San Mateo, CA

                1. re: K K

                  at the time i went to everyday beijing, they had a sign in their window indicating their noodles were hand pulled. it also tasted like hand pulled noodles.

                  maybe they used an italian or korean noodle making machine instead.

                  1. re: shanghaikid

                    I have not been in a while but on my last visit I spoke to the owner and was told that they had a machine in the back and did not hand pull there noodles. In fact she showed me the machine they used. It was one they imported from China and was not the normal one used elsewhere. But that was a while ago it may have changed.

                    1. re: yimster

                      many shandong(chinese-korean) restaurants now use the korean model for their house made noodles. seems to imitate hand pull noodles closely. will check everyday beijing's window next time i drive by to see if the "hand pull" sign is still up.

                      thanx for the inside scoop. btw. "hand pull noodle" in san jose may be using same type of machine since i didn't heard any thumping....

                      1. re: shanghaikid

                        Yes, the give away thumping is always heard when the hand pull is being done.

                        Shandong and Korean food is very related in the only a body of water keep them apart.

                        I will check the next time I drive by to see if the sign is up.

                        1. re: yimster

                          as a unrelated sidenote. most, if not all of the current, shandong restaurant owners emigrated to the u.s from korea, not china. hearsay people of chinese origins couldn't own property in korea but could open restaurants.
                          heard this from chinese emigres from korea (shandong).

                    2. re: shanghaikid

                      checked out their sign on their storefront this weekend.
                      the handwritten "hand pulled noodles" sign was gone. in it's place painted in white lettering on the left storefront window was "house made noodles".

                      1. re: shanghaikid

                        It's been some time since my last visit to Everyday Beijing. But the noodles were machine pulled at the time. I think the signage said "housemade" or something like that.

                        Everyday Beijing
                        637 South B Street, San Mateo, CA

                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          Noticing that their noodles were were all perfectly square, and no longer than about a foot, I directly asked the owner last night if the noodles were "la mien" and did a hand pulling gesture. He said they were. I seem to have this communication problem about noodles a lot... I think the magic word is "machine" and I'd be wise to use that next time. Like hand-pulled noodles, he agreed there was lye in the dough to give them extra stretch. The noodles were very good, but I didn't notice as much tug as the hand pulled noodles I've had recently.

                    3. re: shanghaikid

                      I was at Ark tonight -- he was definitely twirling the noodles, not just rolling the dough across a board. Maybe they have another guy who's not as good.

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                        Had another dinner at Ark and watched him hand-pull several batches of noodles: pulled, twirled (the strand waved up and down to further stretch), folded and twisted. I thought the noodles had a perfect consistency: chewy but fully cooked.

                        I asked for the hand-pulled noodle menu, and the waitress said it was "almost the same" as the hand-pulled noodle section on the main menu. The big exception was the bean paste pork noodles (marked spicy). I asked if this was Dan Dan noodles, and she said no, it was a slightly different variation which is why they didn't call it that.

                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                          The bean paste noodles sound like the spicy pork version of za zang myun.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            Yes, I was thinking that as well. It wasn't really spicy, for that matter. I think the "spicy" warning was for Alameda gringos so they don't think of it as being like chow mein.

                          2. re: Ruth Lafler

                            Ruth, I think you can request hand pulled noodles in any noodle dish and maybe if requested they could make the Dan Dan noodles with the hand pulled noodles. I will ask next time I go.

                            1. re: yimster

                              I don't think they have dan dan noodles on the menu at all.

                              1. re: yimster

                                Dandan noodles are Sichuan, the Ark is Cantonese / Shandong.

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  Yes, but maybe they will make for you. I will ask on my next visit. Chinese ingredients are mostly the same so if the chef is willing you may get anyway.

                                  1. re: yimster

                                    A chef who knows Cantonese and Shandong cuisines won't necessarily have much of a clue about Shanghai dishes, and he might not have Sichuan peppercorns or Sichuan preserved vegetable.

                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                      Yes, but Chef Gordon took over from Chef Chang who worked Shanghai. There is no harm in asking. I will post in a couple of weeks. But first I off to Vegas first.

                                      I can only think about LOS right now.

                        2. Finally made it to the Fremont branch of QQ Noodle, and it immediately climbed to the top of my East Bay Chinese noodle list. The noodles are very long and very chewy: on the verge of QQQ. There are beefier and spicier broths than the one my beef noodles were served in, but it was pleasant enough without distracting from the noodles. My fiancee's tomato and egg noodles were as good as I can imagine that dish being. Kicking myself for not coming here years ago.

                          9 Replies
                          1. re: bradluen

                            Like your Q3 descriptor! Thanks for putting Q Q Noodle back on the radar, I'll have to remember it the next time I'm passing through Fremont.

                            Q Q Noodle
                            3625 Thornton Ave, Fremont, CA 94536

                            1. re: bradluen

                              Are all their noodles hand-pulled? I got two dishes tonight that had fresh noodles, and when I was walking out, I noticed someone eating what looked like udon or those thick Shanghai noodles. Does anyone know if those are hand pulled? Here's a pic:

                              As for what I ate ... I really dug their House Special Sour and Spicy Soup . The meat chunks were overcooked but they imbued a really nice flavor to the soup. Each extremely long noodles were about a centimeter wide and flat, and the longer my leftovers sit in my fridge, the more delicious they become.

                              I also had one of the stir fried noodle dishes with pork. The sauce wasn't anything to write home (or Chowhound) about. The style of hand-pulled noodle was similar to what I recently had at Ark, but I preferred the resistant but not gummy texture of QQ's.

                              I also tried their "Rou Burger," my first try of Rou jia mo. The bread was cakey and dry, and it's exterior had the same coloring that you get from pita. I think I'll stick to the noodles next time ...

                              1. re: hyperbowler

                                As an addendum to my last post: that stir fried noodle dish (that I didn't think was that special) was fantastic the next day.

                                Tonight I tried the #19 "long time thick noodle soup" with seafood. The soup is really flavorful and has head-on shrimp, mussels, scored squid, bok choy (I think), and fake crab. The noodles that I thought were udon or thick Shanghai noodles were really just the same noodles they use in most of their other dishes. The only dish that doesn't use those noodles is the #8, House Special Sour and Spicy Soup, which uses the wide flat noodles.

                                The #21, special hot oil noodle, was great too. The pork was spiced enough with red pepper that I couldn't tell what kind of meat it was, but I liked the texture nonetheless.

                                I've had hand-pulled noodles one time each at King of Noodles, San Tung, and Ark, and the noodle quality of four dishes I've eaten at QQ have all been better. They've been open for about 5 years, and the chef is from Shanxi

                                1. re: hyperbowler

                                  concur that QQ's noodles have a more satisfying mouthfeel than Ark's. we haven't tried the SF places you mentioned. Another place is Palace Chef, a close neighbor to QQ, also on Thornton, with pretty comparable noodles, a Korean-Chinese type of menu, and very good handmade dumplings.

                                  1. re: hyperbowler

                                    Some lackluster noodles at King of Noodles this weekend prompted my to revisit QQ Noodle again for the good stuff. The noodles in QQ's spicy beef soup were as bouncy and delicious as they've been in the past. You can really feel their elasticity as your attempt to dislodge a few noodles only to be thwarted by their stretching ability.

                                    1. re: hyperbowler

                                      I just tried QQ Noodle in Fremont recently on a trip home from Fremont. They assumed I wanted take-out as I was alone, so I went with it, and got the House Special Sour & Spicy w/Pork Noodle Soup. It was delicious, but came with wide, flat noodles rather than hand pulled as I expected. I looked around the restaurant to see what people were eating, and it seemed to be a mix of the wide, flat noodles and the superlong (I assume) hand pulled thin noodles (served with scissors at the table). I can't, however, tell from the menu which dishes have which. Even the larger than life photos at the restaurant weren't that clear, as some dishes looked like they might have flat noodles, but they weren't portrayed as wide as those I got, making them difficult to distinguish from the pulled noodles. Any ordering hints?

                                      1. re:

                                        I think the soup you got is one of the few with the wide flat noodles.

                                        Beef noodle soups, the "long time boiled" things, zha jiang mian, and stir fries I've gotten have all been the hand pulled.

                                2. re: bradluen

                                  +1 on all that, which I had come before. It's about 15 minutes from my house, which does limit things, but it's a low price strip mall joint in the best tradition of the south/east bay. Noodles are crazy good. we never found a noodle end.

                                  GF got leek egg noodle special. She _loved_ the leeks, said when I wrote here to say that _it's all about leeks_, because she's on a leek kick. The bigger flatter egg noodles had plenty of chew.

                                  The beef broth really could have had more zest, we might have gotten a little white people treatment in terms of the amount of extra spice stuff laden into the bowl.

                                  In and out for $20/two people with tax and tip, because they had a few beers in the case but this is just a show up for noodles kind of place. Slightly sticky tables. Chef wandered out of the kitchen a few times to give us the hairy eyeball. Unclear how a place like this can continue existing in this kind of location.

                                  1. re: bbulkow

                                    "unclear how a place like this can continue existing in this kind of location"

                                    fremont is home to many taiwanese and they love QQ noodles so they told their friends, plus QQ was popularized by the likes of y. p.. & chowhound,