Monday, July 20, 2009

The Noodle Master

On Saturday night, the weather in New York was divine. It was the kind of evening that makes you fall in love with the city all over again. A pleasant breeze blew through the Avenues bringing in the cool air from the Hudson. And, after our terribly cruel winter and June's non-stop torrential downpour, we, New Yorkers, were in dire need of some decent July weather. Thank goodness for Saturday!

My latest discovery: Lan Zhou, a hole-in-the-wall noodle shop in the Lower East Side. Before I divulge anything more, just dwell on this: Hand-pulled noodles made to order!


Even though it's quite apparent that English is not this chef's native language, when it comes to noodles, this man is as fluent as they come. A few quick points to the wall-mounted menu was all we needed to communicate our order: one beef brisket noodle soup, one dry noodle, and one order of fried dumplings. (Total Bill= $14)

Close up shot of the menu. Notice everything is $4.50!

Interestingly, our waiter was also the chef. So as soon as we finished ordering, he sauntered over to a stainless steel table in the back corner and started rolling out the floury-white dough. He shouted back the broth order to the tiny kitchen and, then, without missing a beat he started working his magic.

The Noodle Master separated a 3-foot long stick from a larger dough heap and began rolling it into a long thick tube, which oddly resembled an uncooked baguette. His movements weren't exaggerated at all, but there was definitely some theatrical elements to his "noodle dance." By simply crossing his wrists, the chef forced the dough to crisscross onto itself. When it coiled up like a spring, the Noodle Master grabbed both ends and chucked the dough down with great force onto the metal table. A loud banging noise reverberated through the tiny eatery. "Bang!" The glass bowls teetered on their tables. "Bang!" Startled patrons looked up from their noodle bowls and giggled nervously. "Bang!" Everyone's eyes were fixated on the Noodle Master.

Up next was the best part. The Noodle Master divided the larger dough stick into three smaller tubes. He grabbed one stick at a time and gently massaged it with his fingers. It looked as if he was barely tapping the dough when suddenly the tube started multiplying. Smaller strands magically appeared out of no-where. The chef cradled the newly formed noodles and gently placed them into a boiling hot water bath. Minutes later a steaming bowl of fresh noodles arrived at our table. Pure heaven.

1. The ambiance is lacking... but, remember you're going for the show: to watch the master in action!

2. The tiny space does have AC! Although, the sweltering heat from the kitchen could be a deal breaker when the temperature outside gets warmer, but on the night of our visit, it was wonderful.

Lan Zhou Handmade Noodles
144 E. Broadway
(between East Broadway & Pike St.)
New York, NY 10002
(212) 566-6933
Lan Zhou Yelp Page


  1. It was very YUMM-MO! Matter of fact, we're having it for dinner tonight!