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Best damn dan dan noodles?

Prav Nov 25, 2012 08:18 AM

Looking to know who makes the best dan dan noodles? The only caveat is - the sauce MUST NOT be based on sesame paste (I understand a peanut butter-based sauce is the alternative, and that is what I am looking for).


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  1. MC Slim JB RE: Prav Nov 25, 2012 10:08 AM

    The version served at most traditional Sichuan places in town, e.g., Sichuan Gourmet, includes neither sesame paste nor peanut butter. So I'm thinking you want a Chinese-American or Taiwanese version. Mary Chung's is tasty, but I think uses sesame paste.


    2 Replies
    1. re: MC Slim JB
      Prav RE: MC Slim JB Nov 25, 2012 10:30 AM

      Ah, I didn't know there was a "neither" version. Ideally, "neither" sounds best. Not sure how I feel about the possibility of peanut butter overpowering that dish.

      Stupid sesame allergy.

      1. re: Prav
        teezeetoo RE: Prav Nov 25, 2012 11:26 AM

        I'm so sorry I don't know the ingredients for these, but for "hot" I love Sichuan Garden's Dan Dan noodles with pork chili vinaigrette - for traditional, I'm a big Jo Jo Taipei fan. But I don't know whether either uses sesame seed or paste or sesame oil. Best to ask the restaurant i would think,

    2. h
      hargau RE: Prav Nov 25, 2012 03:43 PM

      My favorite are at Sichuan Gourmet in Billerica.. I have no idea what is in them but they dont taste like peanut butter or sesame to me

      1 Reply
      1. re: hargau
        Luther RE: hargau Nov 25, 2012 04:34 PM

        My recollection is that they've got some peanuts and scallions in a brothy sichuan pepper sauce, no creamy nut butter element, maybe some salted soy beans.

      2. beetlebug RE: Prav Nov 25, 2012 05:54 PM

        I'm pretty sure Sichuan Gourmet's and New Shanghai's dan dan noodles don't use sesame paste or peanut butter. It's the version with soy sauce and chili sauces. But, they may sprinkle sesame seeds on top of the noodles. There are numerous kinds of "traditional" dan dan noodles. Some have sesame paste and some do not. Other then my kitchen, I can't think of any sichuan places in the Boston area that do use sesame paste.

        6 Replies
        1. re: beetlebug
          Alcachofa RE: beetlebug Nov 30, 2012 11:04 AM

          After having some awesome dan dan noodles from New Shanghai at lunch, I can answer with a "definite maybe". Our server seemed pretty confident that there was some sort of sesame salt or powder used, but there was definitely a language barrier. With an allergy, I guess you have to assume that the server understood us correctly, and he himself was correct, until more information comes in. Sorry. :o(

          1. re: Alcachofa
            9lives RE: Alcachofa Dec 1, 2012 11:57 AM

            To follow up and to try to assist fellow hound Prav, I felt more research was required.A nice lunch on a pretty snowy day was also a motivation..:)

            Spoke to a mgr/owner? today. Told him I loved the dan dan (dun dun) noodles but had a friend who was allergic to sesame. Would you know if there is any in the dish? He went to the kitchen and I heard an exchange in a language I didn't understand. Mgr came out and said it did in fact contain sesame oil. I aked if it could be prepared without sesame? Answer was yes.

            2 things to keep in mind. As prepared btb @NS with sesame, it's great. We were licking the plate. Can't offer an opinion on a non sesame version. Other point as that a sesame allergic diner might not get the same mgr and be unable to communicate their requirement from table to chef.

            Maybe a good test would be to order the dish with sesame and without??

            My gut tells me they'd be 2 very different dishes but I happen to think that New Shanghai is a very good restaurant and would put out 2 very different but delicious dishes.

            Little more info..hope it's helpful.

            1. re: 9lives
              Prav RE: 9lives Dec 1, 2012 04:20 PM

              9lives, again, can't thank you enough for your kindness!

              1. re: 9lives
                opinionatedchef RE: 9lives Dec 3, 2012 01:08 AM

                what a thoughtful dude you are :-}

                1. re: 9lives
                  KWagle RE: 9lives Dec 3, 2012 01:37 AM

                  Find someone to write you a note in Chinese asking them to leave the sesame out.

                  1. re: 9lives
                    beetlebug RE: 9lives Dec 3, 2012 02:08 PM

                    Ooops. I was only focused on the sesame paste and sesame seed aspect of dan dan noodles. I completely forgot about sesame oil. Sorry for almost killing you Prav.

                    FYI, there isn't usually a ton of sesame oil in dan dan noodles. Maybe a teaspoon or two. While it would change the dish, it I suspect it would still be delicious.

              2. r
                rich patina RE: Prav Nov 25, 2012 07:55 PM

                just wanted to put in a vote for mary chungs. dun dun noodles with shreaded chicken and a beer is my first choice for lunch if im working near central square.

                1 Reply
                1. re: rich patina
                  Prav RE: rich patina Nov 25, 2012 08:37 PM

                  But they use sesame paste... booo

                2. ebone RE: Prav Nov 26, 2012 11:15 AM

                  I had some that were quite good at Myers and Chang the other night. I am not sure on the sesame, but I know they weren't peanut based either (because I have a peanut allergy and asked).

                  13 Replies
                  1. re: ebone
                    MC Slim JB RE: ebone Nov 26, 2012 01:35 PM

                    I like the Myers & Chang version, too, but I believe it has tahini in it (oddly enough, not Chinese sesame paste) as well as crushed peanuts that can be omitted on request. They are very good about dealing with food allergies and aversions.


                    1. re: MC Slim JB
                      ebone RE: MC Slim JB Nov 26, 2012 01:47 PM

                      I believe that one to be the cold version. They had a new hot version of Dan Dan on the menu as of at least this past Saturday (our server said it was brand new). I checked the website and it doesn't appear to have made the online menu yet. I do know that it had pork belly crumble on it though...

                      1. re: MC Slim JB
                        opinionatedchef RE: MC Slim JB Dec 3, 2012 01:12 AM

                        That WOULD be really odd for them to use tahini over chinese toasted sesame paste; not because of the authenticity issue, but because chinese toasted sesame paste is, imo, a far superior flavor (rich, deep, complex v.s. tahini's more one dimensonal/one note flavor [it's from raw seeds,not toasted seeds.])

                        1. re: opinionatedchef
                          MC Slim JB RE: opinionatedchef Dec 3, 2012 04:02 AM

                          I agree that it's an odd choice.


                          1. re: opinionatedchef
                            MC Slim JB RE: opinionatedchef Dec 3, 2012 07:15 AM

                            Got a note from M+C: "Our original restaurant recipe used a house-roasted peanut paste. We have a new Sichuan dan dan noodle dish on our current menu." Looks like they now make a distinction between Taiwanese style (served cold) and Sichuan style dan dan noodles (presumably without the peanut paste).

                            I'll speculate that the tahini I saw in a published version of Myers + Chang's dan dan noodles recipe (the earlier Taiwanese version) was an adaptation for home cooks.


                            1. re: opinionatedchef
                              Infomaniac RE: opinionatedchef Dec 3, 2012 08:16 AM

                              While I agree these is a difference in taste between chinese toasted sesame paste and tahini, tahini most certain is made from roasted sesame seeds as well as raw sesame seeds.
                              I have three different brands of tahini in my pantry and all of them are made from roasted sesame seeds.
                              Tahini made from raw sesame seeds is just plain horrible.

                              1. re: opinionatedchef
                                Science Chick RE: opinionatedchef Dec 3, 2012 01:40 PM

                                Just a note that tahini can be purchased both as raw and toasted varieties. Not sure if the toasted variety is the same as the chinese product you are referring to, OC, but it would be interesting to find out!

                                1. re: Science Chick
                                  opinionatedchef RE: Science Chick Dec 3, 2012 09:55 PM

                                  the chinese toasted sesame paste is the color of almond butter - med brown (not palomino like pnut butter)with darker flecks. i've only known tahini to be tan.

                                  1. re: opinionatedchef
                                    Science Chick RE: opinionatedchef Dec 4, 2012 04:08 AM

                                    The roasted variety is pretty dark compared to regular (light tan) tahini. Not sure about those flecks, though!

                                    1. re: Science Chick
                                      Madrid RE: Science Chick Dec 4, 2012 06:43 AM

                                      I have seen the roasted/toasted variety of tahini for sale only at Sofra, where the cost was so over the top I could not consider it.

                                      Have you seen it elsewhere locally?

                                      1. re: Madrid
                                        Science Chick RE: Madrid Dec 4, 2012 12:02 PM

                                        pretty sure WholeFoods had some.....

                                        1. re: Madrid
                                          Infomaniac RE: Madrid Dec 5, 2012 04:18 PM

                                          Market Basket or any middle eastern store should carry it and only cost you $5 to $6 for a 1lb. jar.
                                          Also, tahini paste can be bought in a light roast, which has a lighter color and taste than the plain roasted.

                                          1. re: Infomaniac
                                            Madrid RE: Infomaniac Dec 5, 2012 05:28 PM

                                            thanks, i wil check these out. I like regular tahini well enough for what i use it for, but I am intrigued by the roasted/toasted version.

                            2. j
                              joth68 RE: Prav Nov 26, 2012 01:51 PM

                              Like most things sichuan, I like Chili Garden's version. Oily Vinegrette style sauce with lots of garlic and some crushed peanuts on top but no seseme or peanut paste. Zoe's also does their dan dan in this style at a slightly lower level of execution.

                              1. FinnFPM RE: Prav Nov 26, 2012 03:32 PM

                                *takes meticulous notes on entire thread*

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: FinnFPM
                                  Ora Moose RE: FinnFPM Dec 3, 2012 04:23 AM

                                  Ok now, can someone brief us on how and why they are called dan dan? It's not like some chinese guy was named Dan Dan and named it after himself , right? Does dan mean somthing in chinese like pasta or egg? Peanut? Sesame? We love the Scichuan Gourmet ones but have no clue what's in them, I'll ask next time.

                                  1. re: Ora Moose
                                    MC Slim JB RE: Ora Moose Dec 3, 2012 07:16 AM

                                    Wikipedia claims: "The name refers to a type of carrying pole (dan dan) that was used by walking street vendors who sold the dish to passers-by. The pole was carried over the shoulder, with two baskets containing noodles and sauce attached at either end. The noodles cost almost nothing, and gradually local people came to call them Dandan noodles. Literally, the name translates as 'peddler's noodles'."


                                    1. re: Ora Moose
                                      Luther RE: Ora Moose Dec 3, 2012 07:55 AM

                                      haha, "dan" (transliterated the same, not the same word or sound in Chinese) does mean egg.

                                      1. re: Ora Moose
                                        junior coyote RE: Ora Moose Dec 3, 2012 01:27 PM

                                        I have a cookbook that claims that "dan dan" echoes the sound of two sticks hit together by street vendors.

                                        1. re: junior coyote
                                          jgg13 RE: junior coyote Dec 3, 2012 05:01 PM

                                          That's the tale that I've always heard.

                                          1. re: junior coyote
                                            Prav RE: junior coyote Dec 3, 2012 08:36 PM

                                            That reminds me of the old joke about the (American) Chinese dish, Chicken Almond Ding. Customer asks why it's called "Almond Ding", and the waiter replies, "That's the sound the dish makes when it's ready to come out of the microwave."

                                      2. t
                                        tamerlanenj RE: Prav Dec 3, 2012 09:29 AM

                                        Surely Fu Loon's are the best. Not that I've tried them all, but I can't imagine a better version. Also pretty sure that it is not peanut or sesame based.

                                        1. s
                                          smtucker RE: Prav Dec 3, 2012 08:12 PM

                                          I have cookbooks with six different versions of Dan Dan noodles and none of them include sesame paste, oil, or peanuts. Fascinating that restaurant versions are so different.

                                          By the way, it is a rather easy dish to make at home, but that wasn't the question.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: smtucker
                                            beetlebug RE: smtucker Dec 4, 2012 03:27 AM

                                            FYI, there is a version in Dunlop's LOP that has sesame paste. I can never decide which version I like better so I alternate between the two.

                                          2. phipsi102 RE: Prav Dec 3, 2012 10:51 PM

                                            Definitely double-check to be sure, but I believe Sichuan Gourmet's (both Framingham and Brookline, haven't had it at Billerica or Sharon) is based on ground Peanut and spicy chili sauce, no sesame involved. Look into it. Allergy or no allergy, this version is by far my favorite, hot, spicy, numbing, and incredibly addictive!

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