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Ark Chinese Restaurant tips? (Alameda)

Does anyone know if they have a special Chinese menu there, or if they changed things up since they temporarily closed (vacation?) a few weeks ago?

I went there last week to get hand-pulled noodles (lamian) and a soup with cat's ear noodles mentioned on a Chowhound thread from several years back. The menu was only in English and nothing seemed to correspond to cat ear noodles, so I pulled up the wikipedia entry for Chinese noodles and showed the server the chinese characters for cat ear noodles. Just my luck ... of all the noodle dishes in that entry, that was apparently the one that left out the character for "noodles." This resulted in me apologizing after he reeled back and made a shocked meowing sound. I wound up getting the bean paste pork (hand-pulled) noodles and the Juicy Pork Steam Dumplings, a recommendation of the server.

The bean paste pork noodles were Zha jiang mian. I found the sauce pleasantly lighter than the one I've had at San Tung in SF. I've never had hand-pulled noodles in a stir fried dish before, and I think I prefer them in soup. I liked their uneven width, but compared to a dried noodle, nothing about the chewiness or flavor impressed me under the sauce.

The Juicy Pork Steam Dumplings were Xiao Long Bao. The skin was way too thick, but it allowed them to hold in a salty soup without deflating.

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  1. As far as I know they don't have a Chinese menu, but I've never thought to ask for one there. If you like the noodles in soup, then the seafood soup noodles are good, are are the beef stew turnip noodles.

    1. judjing by the little circle on top of the xiao lung bao, i believe ark doesn't make their own xlb. saw this kind of xlb also in san francisco once in the mission. place has since closed

      6 Replies
      1. re: shanghaikid

        What little circle? Do you mean a stamp? There was none that I noticed. I'd be surprised if these were made to order based on their thickness.

        1. re: hyperbowler

          not a stamp, an open hole on top of the xlb, topping the surroundeding pleats.
          no way the hole could have created by hand.
          usually the top is a twisted point.

          o ---on peak/top of xlb.

          oh, i think i saw it at cooking papa's (foster city) a while back too.

          1. re: shanghaikid

            Not so sure about that. I've had XLB at non-Shanghainese restaurants that had the top hole you've described and they looked hand-wrapped to me.

            Here's a photo of some particularly ugly ones in Beijing.
            http://www.saturdaymarket.com/chinabr...

            1. re: shanghaikid

              I paid attention to how they were folded, and there was nothing particularly weird about the top. No open hole, no chinese yo-yo cup shape, and no obvious hint that the top was amateurishly pinched off (the way I tend to seal these).

              1. re: shanghaikid

                i had them in February and the top was sealed with no hole

                the skins are somewhat thick at Ark, but (imo) better that than thin & ripped open. i burned my tongue a bit on hot, flavorful broth.

                i had the beef noodle soup with hand-pulled noodles too, and the noodles were not very good that day. undercooked and doughy

                 
                1. re: drewskiSF

                  talked to a shandong restaurant owner who knows a bit about dim sum. was informed xlb could be made with a hole on top (to hold water).

                  the hole is created during the folding process by folding around it.
                  hole doesn't look like melanie's ugly ones though

                  also had hand pulled nooldes at ark, kind of chewy, not pulled enough, i think.

          2. I've had the chow mein with hand pulled noodles a couple of times, and it is fantastic. Took a friend who loves noodles, and he, too, was blown away by the chow mein w/hand-pulled noodles. (You have to ask for hand-pulled, and it costs a dollar extra, but worth it.)

            1. I went for the first time last night. They have a separate menu for hand-pulled noodles, I had to grab that from another table. Got the ones with bean paste and pork, I thought they were great.

              From the regular menu, #4 Bean Sheet Cucumber Salad w/Pork, Chef Yu and Great China (where they call it "double skin") do this better.

              #32 Cumin lamb was really good. Not a really strong cumin flavor but good texture and nice seasoning overall.

              #50 Fresh Fish (basa?) w.Flaming Chili Sauce was good and seriously spicy.

              #74 Stir-Fry Chinese Broccoli was fine.

              I saw the guy in the back making what I guess were the fresh pork dumplings the whole time, I'd get those next time.