At the top of the year, I ate bowls upon bowls of Lanzhou beef noodle soup from over half a dozen specialists in Los Angeles while trying to wrap my mind and palate around the Hot Dish for a feature on Eater LA. With its ropey, hand-pulled noodles and gorgeously clear broth, I never tired of the noodle soup even though I ate it for weeks on end.
Still, on occasions when I was dining out slash researching with a companion or two in tow, I took the opportunity to taste other specialties on the menu. Below are the best of the b-sides. Mmm…
Though the Lanzhou beef noodle soup at Lanzhou Noodle House in Walnut was one of the weakest that I sampled, its cold fried tofu appetizer was terrific, with a generous slicking of chile oil and light crusting of sesame seeds.
At LAN Noodle in Arcadia, The Astronomer and I were taken aback by the seemingly simple scallion noodles. Whereas scallion noodles are usually stir-fried quite straightforwardly with soy sauce and scallions, the ones at LAN arrived in a shallow soy sauce broth with crisped and browned green onions heaped on top. The dish’s innovative composition and nuanced flavors gave the famed beef noodle soup a run for its money.
Before settling into steaming bowls of beef noodle soup at Northern Cafe in Monterey Park, my lunch date and I selected a trio of cold appetizers from the glass encased display. From the garlic-flecked kelp to the delicately spiced tripe, each dish was expertly made. Most memorable was the thinly sliced pig’s tongue, tender as can be and seasoned with numbing chile oil.
My favorite b-sides were at 1919 Lanzhou Beef Noodle in Arcadia, especially the “special dry beef noodle.” I paired the warmly spiced beef, tendon, and broth with twisted, hand-pulled strands for an unbeatably good combination reminiscent of Vietnamese bo kho.
Also utterly fantastic were the “marinated pork feet,” that tenderly fell off the bone in wonderfully gelatinous chunks.
Come for the Lanzhou beef noodle soup, stay for the supporting cast of lesser known noodles, cold appetizers, and pig’s feet. It’s the right thing to do.
One year ago: The Restaurant at the NoMad – Los Angeles (Downtown)
Two years ago: Cosa Buona – Los Angeles (Echo Park)
Three years ago: Cento Pasta Bar – Los Angeles (Downtown)
Four years ago: Union Square Donuts – Boston
Five years ago: Bestia – Los Angeles
Six years ago: Cafe Artist – Garden Grove
Seven years ago: Mile End Sandwich – New York City
Eight years ago: Hungry Cat – Los Angeles (Hollywood)
Nine years ago: Mori Sushi – Los Angeles
Ten years ago: Amaro Bar at Osteria Mozza – Los Angeles
Eleven years ago: Bake-Sale Brownies
Twelve years ago: The Art of Making Bánh Chưng
Thirteen years ago: Naked Chocolate Cafe – Philadelphia