In spite of its billing, tangled heaps of slurp-worthy strands aren’t what it’s all about at 101 Noodle Express. A quick glance around the packed dining room makes it crystal clear that the beef rolls bring all the Northern Chinese bread food-seekers to the yard.
A Shandong classic, the hefty beef roll ($6.75) is comprised of a fried wheat pancake smeared with a hoisin-like bean paste and stuffed with fresh cilantro and thin cuts of beef. A single order includes two foot-long logs filled to the brim and sliced into manageable sections.
The flaky pancake was warm to the touch and substantial enough to keep the fixins in line. Unadorned, the beef roll tasted like a carne asada burrito with a bready exterior and no trace of guac. My dining companion thought it tasted like a deconstructed bowl of pho.
What really made the beef roll come alive were the two tableside condiments—a mixture of fresh chilies with cilantro and a chili infused oil. The container filled with the former was depleted by the time we were through.
It’s about time this restaurant drops the “101 noodle” gibberish and re-christens itself Beef Rolls Express.
101 Noodle Express
1408 East Valley Boulevard
Alhambra, CA 91801