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Best Menu of all the Noodle Shops, Pulled as You Order

老地方 Lao Difang (old place), 28 Forsyth, Chinatown, NYC, is a Noodle Shop that is wedged between Saint Barbara Greek Orthodox Church and a Chinese noodle factory.

(老地方 曼哈頓的華埠科西街二十八號)

Some confusion with the name of this establishment found on a blog I like below, as the blog worth checking out states the name as being 快樂手工拉麵 (Kuai le Shougong Lamian) Happy Hand Pulled Noodle. The menu has Lao Di Fang in both Romanized letters and Chinese characters.

Why a sign on the window for Lanzhou when the people are from Fuzhou? The sign you see in this photo actually reads Lan Zhou La Mian in neon simplified Chinese: 兰州拉面. That is a reference to the city of Lanzhou (兰州) in the western Province of Gansu (甘肃) that is famous for its hand pulled noodles, which are tyically made in shops run by the Muslim minority of the city. They are called Huizu (回族), 回 "Hui" being Islam 族 "zu" being the suffix for ethic group. Huijiao (回教) means Muslim or Islam.

It is fact that most of the hand pulled noodle shops in Chinatown NYC are owned by people from Fuzhou, and they use Lanzhou on menus, signs and even in their names to distinguish their noodles as being actually pulled from fresh dough by hand, and in some of these hand pulled shops you can witness that happening to the very noodles you will consume. One will probably not come across a truly Lanzhou Hand Pulled Noodle Shop owned and operated by a Muslim minority, or even a Han Chinese, from Lanzhou City, unless you visit China.

地方上的語言和地方上的菜: Localized language and Localized Cuisine

Before I get to the food and menu, a word of people who own and run Lao Di Fang. I had a dialogue with one of the shop attendants and accordingly found out he was from Fuzhou, or at least Fujian. I do believe the owners are from Fuzhou City (福州 市), in Fujian Provence (福建省), which just over the Taiwan Straits (台湾海峡 Taiwan Haixia ) from Taiwan's northern tip. The feature that differentiates them is the language they speak, which is Fuzhou or Fujianese Language (福州話), in a similar fashion that the Cantonese (粤 Yue) from Guangzhou City of Gungdong Province are distinguihed because of their language, which is Cantonese (粤语 Yueyu or 广东话 Guangdong Hua). And as linguists and anthropologists distinquish these regional people through the language they use amongst there fellow regional natives, one must not forget that cooking also is a distinguishing factor, especially in China, between locations throughout. The Fujianese, the late comers to New York's Chinatown, who established themselves in the regions of East Braodway and Eldridge long after those from Taishan and Guangzhou (Gangdong Province) made roots here, are quite serious about cooking and food, and Lao Di Fan is a fine example of that fact.

I just visited this establishment and ate 羊肚拉麵, which is lamb (or goat) stomach hand pulled noodle. It was very delicious, and a hearty portion. I saw them pull the dough for my dish, and the wait was not long at all.

The shop appears to be a new place, though upon my visit was told they just renovated.

It actually opens at 8 am for those noodle breakfasts 7 days a week, and closes at 10 pm.

The noodles are stretched from dough after you make the order, and you can specify if you want them a bit thin or a bit thick.

The person waiting the tables speaks English, Mandarin 漢語 'hanyu' or 普通話 'putonghua' and Fujianese-福州話 'Fuzhou hua'.

Its the best menu of all the noodle shops I have found in Chinatown, with the avarage price for a hearty portion being about $4.50 to $5.50. Less expensive dishes, but with the same portions and without meat are offered at $3.00 and $3.50. There some of the meat choices that actually hover around $4.00. There are two different hot sauces on the table, one being the ubiquitous Vietnamese Tuong Ot Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce, found in most all the restaurants in Chinatown, too much on the sweet side for hot food lover. There is also 紅油 Hong You, ground red chili in oil, and this works wonderful for those who like it hot.

As for the hand pulled noodle dishes on the menu, which has English beside the Chinese, they have 牛骨魷魚拉麵, or Beef Bone with Squid Noodle in a soup base, meaning cut chunks of round squid in a broth that comes from boiled beef bone. Most of the noodle dishes are soup based, (湯的), but there are a few non-soup options.

They have all the following, all of which are geneously added to your hand pulled noodles and accompanied by vegetables in a soup base:

牛肉片 Beef strips

烤鴨 Roasted duck

牛腩 Beef brisket

海蚌 Mussels

牛肚 Tripe (beef)

鸡片 Sliced chicken meat without bone

牛尾 Ox tail

羊肉 Lamb

羊肚 Lamb stomach

豬肠 pork intestine

豬肚 pig stomach

豬腳 pig feet

牛腳 beef leg

上排 Spear Rib

There are a couple of fried hand pulled noodle options offered on the menu, one being Stir Fried Beef Strips Hand Pulled Noodle (炒牛肉拉麵), with mixed vegetables.

And if you want your noodles without soup, or not fried, and with a sauce, there is the common (to Chinese noodle shops), Spiced Ground Meat Sauce Noodles -炸醬麵 (Zha Jiang Mian), for only $3.00 (or $3.50). 炸醬 Zha Jiang is the sauce for this which is always plentiful when dished on top of the noodles. It is made of ground meat which is cooked with mild spices, the result of which is a brown looking sauce (served moist but without soup). This is a traditional sauce that is prepared in house. I highly recommend it to those who want to try Chinese noodles in the fashion that many in China eat.

And the selection does not stop there. Lao Di Fang also prepares something called 炒米糕 (chao mi gao), on the menu as 炒年糕 (chao nian gao), which translates to Fried Rice Cake. This is similar to Korean Dukbokki 떡볶이 (1.), which consists of thick very soft pasta like forms made of rice, that are circular, solid and cylinder shaped. In Chinese cooking they may look more like thick or thin sometimes flat wedges, or in a circular form. In Korea, Dukbokki is cooked and served in a spicy sauce with minimal accompaniment beyond scallions, but at Lao Di Fang this 米糕 (mi gao) Rice Cake is stir fried with a good prtion of assorted vegetables, and if remember correctly, bits of meat. Look for 炒年糕 on the menu page called 風味小吃 (FengWei Xiao Chi) or just look for Rice Cake opposite the Hand Pulled Noodle selection.

These cakes made from rice can also be ordred steamed (煮的 zhude) according to the menu, though this may mean boiled as the word 煮'zhu' typically means cooked over the stove in a pot with water, or simply to cook. Steamed food is typcially called 蒸 "zheng" as in 蒸餃 (zhengjiao) steamed dumpling, and prepared in stacks of round bamboo containers with lids. I am guessing that the 'Steamed Rice Cake' option with mixed vegetables and maybe a bit of meat, are cooked to a minimal stew like consistency, but served on a flat plate.

There is much more on the menu at this fine Fujianese owned establishment, such as Fish Falls, very inexpensive boiled dumplings (水餃 'shuijiao'), potato balls, and other small plates for $2 or $3.

Noodle dishes are all hand pulled after you order them, and be sure to specify whether you want them thick or thin. You can see this as the kitchen is open and just off the dining room.

The prices start at $3.00 for Vegetable Hand Pulled Noodle and go up to $6.00 for the House Special (assorted meats) and Seafood Noodle (crab, jumbo shrimp, razor clams, and more).

This blog has a nice review and photo (http://www.gastrochic.com/2011/food/l...), which states that the same place is called 快樂手工拉麵 (Kuai le Shougong Lamian) Happy Hand Pulled Noodle. The menu has Lao Di Fang in both Romanized letters and Chinese characters. It is clean and well managed, and had a recent renovation.

Lao Di Fang is wedged bewteen a Chinatown noodle factory and the Saint Barbara Greek Orthodox Church 27 Forysth, just south of Canal Street, opposite the elevated roadway to the Manhattan Bridge

Fotnotes:

Korean Dukbokki 떡볶이: http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2782/4...; http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lky...

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Lao Di Fang
28 Forsyth St, New York, NY 10002

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  1. This place is the former Far Eastern Hand Pulled Noodle shop owned by Fuzhou natives Mr. Gao and his wife. They sold the restaurant a couple of years ago. The folks here are friendly and I put it up there in the top tier of the hand-pulled noodle joints.

    1. This place has had a real identity problem. It was called Eastern Noodles when the New York Times wrote them up about 4 years ago, then I believe it became Far Eastern Noodles. A Village Voice write up from last year refers to Kuan An Hand Pulled Noodles, but it was called Kuai Le Hand Pulled Noodles when I ate there this past spring.

      As far as Fuzhou influence goes, I'm starting to think that a majority of the Chinese restaurants east of the Mississippi River are owned by Fujianese, and certainly that goes for most all of the Chinese restaurants in Chinatown east of Bowery.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Chandavkl

        The location is not as good as others. They might be trying to find what is good for selling their place to customers, though identity problems do happen to business.

        1. re: Chandavkl

          >>This place has had a real identity problem. It was called Eastern Noodles when the New York Times wrote them up about 4 years ago ... A Village Voice write up from last year refers to Kuan An Hand Pulled Noodles, but it was called Kuai Le Hand Pulled Noodles when I ate there this past spring.

          I think these changes suggest not confusion or an "identity problem" but rather changes in the ownership groups, which probably gained or lost partners with every name change. The latest occurred within the past month, so I'm not surprised that blogs, the Voice and other online references use the old, outdated name. (BTW the first NYT mention of Eastern Noodles was in '05 ... http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/02/din... )

          1. re: squid kun

            Thanks squid kun - may be something wrong with that link. I could not access it at least. In general it is very important for these restaurants to change their name when ownership passes hands. They do not want someone turning up with an invoice to the old joint demanding payment.

            1. re: scoopG

              Particularly sales tax, which I suspect is one of the most common drivers of Chinese restaurant name changes.

                1. re: Peter Cuce

                  Thanks. Then Mr. Gao sold that place, moved to Florida to try something else and then when he returned to NYC he opened up at 28 Forsyth Street. . .

                  1. re: scoopG

                    Then 27 Eldridge became Sheng Wang?

                    1. re: Chandavkl

                      Correct. I thought then Mr. Gao's place at 28 Forsyth was then called Far Eastern Noodles... Or was it just plain Eastern Noodles?

          2. Actually I am working on my own review of the 6-7 noodle shops in Chinatown and will have to add this to the list. My favorite so far is Food Sing 88 and I think I've discovered their secret!

            -----
            Food Sing 88
            2 E Broadway, New York, NY 10038

            8 Replies
            1. re: scoopG

              Spying, oh dear, you could go to prison for that, or make money selling that secret to their competition. Jest.

              I will will go to food sing 88 and check it out. Thanks for the tip.

              A friend met up with a fellow traveller he met in Ciaro last night and insisted I take them both to a Fuzhou owned Hand Pulled Noodle Place, also with Lanzhou on oneof their signs. I like this place because the noodles remind me more of the more thin side noodles in southern China and Taiwan. They pull them in front of you. I a sure you know this shop further east on East Broadway: http://www.salon.com/2010/02/04/lanzh....

              It is one of my favorites, up there as " always a delicious meal".

              1. re: jonkyo

                Oh no spying involved! They told me and one thing about cooking in any cuisine is that there are no secrets! And yes Lan Zhou is well known - a mistake on their menu board (Lam for Lan) has them often misidentified!

                I will post my review of Food Sing 88 in a day or two. Your reviewing Kuai Le prompted me to speed things up. I thought I should re-visit all of the hand-pulled noodle places in Chinatown just to confirm (or re-confirm) my impressions. That then led me to try to grade them all. I believe I'd just have two tiers. I am also going in mainly on grading the noodle soups - not the entire menu. Food Sing 88 only does noodles. Kuai Le offers XLB for example.

                Here are past threads on the Fuzhou noodle joints:

                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/492376
                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/504362

                1. re: scoopG

                  Sounds like a great explorations...investigation.

                  In the end, you may in fact eliminate those contestants that are not on par with those who truly know the food, and know and have a nack for what they are trying to achieve (please taste buds). After the elemination of that bottom teir, it may be relative to the fancies and tastes of particular customers, but a critique by a truly knowledgeable and well experieneced individual is something always of a virture in this day and age when everyone, even Adam from Man vs, Food, thinks they are a food critic .

                  "Quality over quantity"

                  加油 加油。

                  Thanks for he links to your older reviews.

                  1. re: scoopG

                    There's a branch of Food Sing 88 in Sunset Park, which has a huge influx of Fuzhou restaurants of late, called H858 Corp (catchy name, I know). It's a large storefront on 8th Ave, very popular, with constant table turnover even midday on a Friday. The oxtail hand-pulled noodles were $6. This wasn't melt in your mouth oxtail but instead the more chewy, cartilage-y variety. I liked the compact mass of noodles, just the right amount for one meal. Good stuff.

                    1. re: Peter Cuce

                      I'll make a note for my visit to Sunset Park and ask them about next time at Food Sing 88. Maybe they selected H858 because H848 was taken!

                      1. re: Peter Cuce

                        I have not been to the 8th Ave Fuzhou Town in years, and plan on checking out the 88 Food Sing on East Broadway,and if I get out to Brooklyn I will check it out, thanks.

                        .

                        If you are keen on beef you should look for 牛腩 (niu nan) on these menus. That is a really nice cut of the cow, very tender and offered on the menus of most of these shops. 牛腩 (niu nan) is beef brisket, the part that is used for corned beef,

                        I got used to larger portions of noodles as opposed to the size in southern Taiwan noodle shops, on the Mainland, especially when ordering from the shops owned by 回族 (huizu), the Chinese Muslim minority. The shops here are plenty, and usually finish half and take half to go.

                        I went to Lao Di Fang today and the outside signs all before of Kuai La Noodles have been changed to Lao Di Fang.

                        All dishes of soup can be stir fried, one dollar extra.

                        Noodles are thin lke south China Taiwan. But can make thick on request.

                        1. re: jonkyo

                          I know this is an old thread, but after driving by Lao Di Fang ( and other names before that)several times a week, I finally pulled the car over and went in for some noodles.
                          Previously Sheng was my hand pulled noodle spot.
                          The manager was Fujianese, and quite friendly. It seemed like they don't get many non-Chinese people in there, as he was surprised how I enjoyed my Special Noodle dish. It had tripe, stomach , beef, beef stew, duck, other stuff. The broth was fantastic. The tastiest I think I've had in Ctown. I know some have said the location was bad, but I love that location. It is right across from all the vegetable stands. Police don't give parking tickets on that street.
                          I got fish balls in broth to-go.. I had them for breakfast today. They were delicious. As good as those as Sheng.
                          I highly recommend this place.

                          1. re: foodwhisperer

                            I'm so glad you posted in this thread. I'm taking my husband to visit some old friends of mine & want to show him a few select places while we're there including a walk around Chinatown - haven't been in years and wanted to find a place with delicious food that isn't a tourist hotspot. I have now put this place on my list, thanks to you!

                2. so how it actually? was the broth good?

                  i like the noodles from most of these places, but their broth is lacking and the beef / meat is just so so. i could live without really good meat, but a good broth is key.

                  in general i like 144 east broadway the best, but the places aren't hugely different. 144 east broadway has pretty good dumplings though

                  -----
                  Lam Zhou Handmade Noodle
                  144 E Broadway, New York, NY 10002

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Lau

                    I had the Seafood Noodle with soup at Lao Di Fang reently, and was not as pleased with the broth as much as the other dish I had there, which was goat stomach noodle. The Goat Stomach Noodles broth was great.

                    The best broth I have found, simply heavenly, really, is at 河南风味 Henan Flavor, Forsyth up from Hester accoss from the park first block up from Hester. The Yang Innard Soup without noodles was so good, the broth, white in color. 他们的牛腩烩面也有好吃, 味道真好。你因该订麻辣牛腩烩面。我刚刚吃完了一晚河南风味的麻辣牛腩烩面。Their Beef Brisket Noodle is very good, and I recommend their Ma La Beef Brisket Noodles. I just finished a bowl of them. Delicious.

                    144 East Broadway is another great place, that is never any question to go there if I want good taste. Had there dumpling once, and anything I order there is good.

                    Again, Henan Flavor broth tops them all, at least for me.

                    -----
                    Lam Zhou Handmade Noodle
                    144 E Broadway, New York, NY 10002

                    He Nan Flavor
                    68 Forsyth St, New York, NY 10002

                    Lao Di Fang
                    28 Forsyth St, New York, NY 10002

                    1. re: jonkyo

                      yah ive been meaning to go to henan fengwei for a while that 牛腩烩面 sounds delicious

                      1. re: Lau

                        the broth 每一次吃我马上到去天国。我不骗你。It is truly the best broth in town, I know of.

                  2. I've been dying for cold spicy chicken with la mian (see photo: http://www.keropokman.com/2010/02/cry...) ever since I got back from Singapore. I've given up on finding it in Boston. Do any of the NYC noodle shops have anything like this??

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: terillama

                      Not that know of.

                      You might try cold spicy gugsu (noodles), these are cold Korean noodles and very hot, and chicken could be added I am sure.

                      Little Korea I am sure you can find them if you look around.

                      1. re: terillama

                        hmm do you know the name of the dish in chinese? it looks like a sichuan dish, which oddly enough is very un-singaporean (most singaporean food is either hokkien, teochew or cantonese in origin)

                        i dont think any of the noodle shops have anything like this although its possible you could find it one of the sichuan restaurants (szechuan gourmet, spicy & tasty, little pepper etc) or i also think some of the sichuan stalls at the new world mall might have something like this

                        1. re: Lau

                          Ah, I should have mentioned they were actually from the Crystal Jade restaurant chain based in Singapore but specializing in Chinese cuisine and found throughout Asia... They don't specify a regional cuisine so I think it might just be a bit of everything. This particular branch specializes in Xiao Long Bao and La Mian.

                          I'd never heard of New World Mall, but have spent the last half hour drooling over pictures and reviews online. I will definitely try to make it over there - thanks!!

                          1. re: terillama

                            oh wait i didnt even realize that, is it the crystal jade dim sum place in singapore?

                        2. re: terillama

                          If you want the taste according to the picture, I recommend ordering cold noodles with either conch or eel at a Korean restaurant.

                          There is a special name for the dish served mostly in bars, with very spicy noodles, but I have not that name at the moment, as I do not speak Korean beyond 'yobosayyo' and some food items.

                          Try bibim kuksu (bibim noodles as opposed to bibim rice 'bop') with choice of meat or sea animal. 비빔구수 (bibimkuksu).

                          Type korean: http://www.lexilogos.com/keyboard/kor...

                          It is a phonetic alphabet.

                          noodles:

                          http://cfile239.uf.daum.net/image/206...
                          http://cfile5.uf.tistory.com/image/16...

                          Good luck on your quest for what you are looking for.

                          1. re: jonkyo

                            Yum those look delicious! Thanks for the tip!