Noodles are an integral part of Chinese culture. You can order them thick or thin, made from rice or wheat, piled high or swimming in a stew. One thing is for sure, you’ll never go wanting for noodles in China.
Our favorite noodle experience, other than our noodle ninja at the hot pot restaurant, was in the Muslim Quarter in Xi’an. Like tacquerias in Mexico (or any part of southern California), these dive-looking noodle shops are less about ambience and all about the food. Tucked in hutongs, or tight alleyways, are squat tables surrounded by cheap, plastic chairs where locals gather to drink beer and slurp noodles – our kind of spot. These eateries have baskets full of stick-pierced vegetables to choose from. After selecting your vegetables, you drop them off at the counter whereupon the white-capped Muslim “noodler” goes to work. Whipping up fresh noodles right in front of you to go with your veggies, out comes an Asian spaghetti that would make Italians proud.
Beijing is full of upscale noodle shops, too. At the eponymously named Noodle Bar, we (I should say “I”) delighted in having home-made noodles with the innards of cows – tripe, intestines and a whole lot more, a Chinese delicacy and experience to be sought out.