ISO 'Best' Zha Jiang Mian, Any Location
Visitor from DC looking for noodles in bean paste sauce to replicate the experience at Noodle Loft in Beijing.
Where I live, there is only one ok version (A&J) that I mostly ignore because I find it uninteresting. All other local options are pretty bad. I have taken to making it myself: the result is far better than all places except for A&J, but it falls short of that.
For the purpose of this quest, I am willing to sacrifice great noodles for great sauce if needed.
I am looking for a saucy, complex version.
And, please, no Chinese-Korean noodles in black bean sauce.
The most convenient would be 101 Noodle Express since I will probably go there anyway. Their 'minced pork noodles' might do the trick, but photos I've seen of it make it look dry.
So far the recs I've seen from scouring Chowhound are Qingdao Bread Food and FFY Noodle House. But I am not limited to SGV for this.
Two places that have good versions:
FFY Noodle House
18219 E Gale Ave
Rowland Heights, CA 91748
Mandarin Noodle House
701 W Garvey Ave
Monterey Park, CA 91754
Try the hand pulled noodles when you order the zha ziang mian at Kam Hong Gardens. It's just west of the corner of Garvey & New (they're neighbors with Beijing Pie House, if you're also missing the Beijing pies).
Noodle Loft's zha ziang mian is tourist-friendly, but it's not the best iteration of this dish in Beijing.
That's actually a great two-fer.
While I haven't tried the zha zhang mian from Kam Hong Garden, I have had their noodles and they're quite good.
The fact that you can also get an order of pan fried fennel and minced pork pies just by crossing the parking lot is one of those super "only in SGV" bonuses that make me so happy to live in Los Angeles.
I was taken to Noodle Loft by a Chowhound friend living in Beijing. We went to holes-in-the-wall not on any tourist map and anywhere else he took us. Noodle Loft was sensational all around.
But for the purposes of this thread, i will happily take any suggestions that are even better than NL.
I think lots of places do a good rendintion of ZJM, none of them great. These include Earthen, Dings, Beijing Pie House and Ding's.
But I think my favorite, right now, and not by alot, is probably No.1 Noodle House.
When were you last at Ma Lan? I had an outrageously disappointing visit several months ago that I wrote about here, and the response was essentially "we know". I haven't cared to go back since (and I absolutely loved the place when they first opened, and was heartbroken when the Monterey Park location closed.)