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拉面 La Mian World

the quest for the perfect noodle

In the year 1994 I discovered an entirely new world. The world of Chinese hand-pulled noodles – La Mian.

Led by the Lonely Planet to a small alley around the corner from a shabby hotel in Lanzhou in Gansu province I found myself in a crowd of Chinese lunchers queuing for their staple food – La Mian.  First not understanding the purchasing process, my accompanying friend and me were pushed towards the cash counter. Purchasing a token ensured us the first taste of a bowl of La Mian.

We were thrilled to see the chef prepare the noodles freshly for each dish. Kneading, squashing, pulling, kneading, squashing and pulling the dough until he ended up holding spaghetti-thin noodles between his hands and artistically throwing them into boiling water. Within seconds the tasty soup was on our table. For the first time eating our spaghetti noodle soup with chopsticks left our white t-shirts with a nice sprinkle of brown soup freckles.

The taste of the soup broth was amazing, the noodles so fresh, perfectly cooked – adding some dark vinegar and I was hooked.

Lanzhou style La Mian 兰州拉面 are hard to find outside of China. Upon moving to Singapore in 2010 I was delighted to find that just close to my apartment opened a small restaurant called Jin Fu Rong Shi Fu on Balestier Road. In the open part of the kitchen some expert La Mian chef was kneading, squashing and pulling it. Only, the joy lasted some six months and the La Mian expert was replaced with another pork rib soup outlet – as if there were not enough on Balestier Road.

After this experience I started my quest for the perfect noodle!

Guten Appetit!

If you would like to tell your La Mian story on La Mian World as a guest writer or want to contact me, send me an e-mail at lamianworld@gmail.com

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