In search of Shanghai style noodles , preferably flat
I'm a huge fan of the Shanghai Style Flat Noodles ( 上海粗炒面 ) at Joe's Shanghai in NYC. They are thick, a little wider than they are tall, and full of irregularities that pick up sauce and have a great texture. Finding something equivalent in the Bay Area has met with limited success, so I'd love to know if anyone has other recommendations. The commonalities of ones I've encountered are that there's a fat gauged wheat noodle, cabbage, either green onion or greens but not both, and a lack of bean sprouts. Here's some recent experiences and pics:
On Balboa in SF, Shanghai House's noodles are housemade, have a great chew, and are more squarish than flattish. I'm still thinking about the cabbage, which had a wonderful intense flavor and char marks. Scant amount of spinach helped round out the dish.
On Taraval in SF, Dumpling Kitchen has flattish irregularly shaped house made noodles. Fantastic chewy texture. These are exactly what I'm looking for. The rest of the dish was good, but not as good as at Shanghai House. In particular, the cabbage and green onions were too lightly cooked, and didn't have as intense a flavor.
On Taraval in SF, Kingdom of Dumpling has the characters for Shanghai style noodles listed on the menu, but I was unable to convince the waiter to give me that noodle outside of soup.
On Market in SF, Shanghai Restaurant lists an udon noodle dish that sounded enough like Shanghai style noodles that I ordered it. Both the bartender and the server agreed that they noodles were "homemade," so I gave it a shot. As advertised on the menu, the noodles were indeed udon, and definitely store bought. That's my bad--- I need to remember to clarify whether "the dough" is homemade. In any case, the dish was water logged and overloaded with vegetables.
On Balboa in SF, Shanghai Dumpling King had the worst housemade noodles of the lot. The squarish and overcooked noodles lacked any char or outside starch, so the sauce slipped right off of them. The noodles were mostly scraps-- lots of 1-2" pieces.
On Webster in Oakland, Shanghai Restaurant has a noodle dish listed in English as Shanghai style noodles. These were the lowest gauge Shanghai noodles I've eaten. They're squarish, and just fatter than the largest size of spaghetti. According to the chef, they're house made. There was some charring on the noodles, and I liked the dishes flavor, but it wasn't the noodle I was looking for.
The quest now is a hybrid of Shanghai House's charred vegetable preparation with Dumpling Kitchen's flat noodles. Any other spots in SF, the peninsula, or East Bay, worth checking out? It's been a while, but the ones at Bund Shanghai and Five Happiness never wowed me.
Yeah, I asked each place whether the noodles were house made, and either due to language problems or someone testing my gullibility, the answer was always a dubious "yes." In the case of the Caucasian bartender who told me they were housemade at Shanghai Restaurant in SF, I think it was actually their ignorance. After my meal there, the Chinese host asked what I thought of my meal and was upfront about the udon being from the supermarket and obviously not being a flat Shanghai noodle.
As a comparison, I purchased some from a market on Geary a few weeks back. Oops... the expiration date has approached faster than I thought...
That's a good point. I've not had those there, but can someone provide clarify something? The ones I've eaten at Darda are smooth and very firm, have widely variable lengths, and reminde me a little bit of rice cakes. I understand these are shaved off a big piece of dough right into boiling water. As per other Chowhounders advice, I've also had handcut noodles at Shandong in Oakland. These are very long, prepared in house, and kept in little nests until an order comes up. There's are a bit pasty or soggy. I liked the idea behind the latter, and should definitely try elsewhere.