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拉面 La Mian World

the quest for the perfect noodle

Tag Archives: lan zhou la mian

So this is the last post on La Mian World. Maybe.

It has been a great journey. The world’s first blog dedicated to the art of  hand pulled Chinese noodles was launched in 2011. With one post per month and fabulous finds of places, restaurants and noodle artists it is the ultimate source of wisdom for all la mian lovers. So or in similar ways goes the usual praise for ones own blog.

Anyway I just had a good time exploring different aspects of the La Mian World, Asian food and countries, taking photographs and last but not least eating and enjoying heaps of amazing, fresh hand pulled la mian.

I hope you enjoyed it as well. Thanks for reading and keep on eating la mian at your local la mian chef’s joint! And of course you can come back and re-read some old post every now and then. It doesn’t hurt.

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You should always have ambitious targets in life. My latest target is to try all the Chinese hand-made noodle varieties that I found out about.

I stumbled upon a cooking class in Beijing which offers to teach you how to do a whole lot of different noodles from the provinces of Shanxi and Shaanxi. Some of them I had never heard about. So now I am out for the hunt to try them out.

This is the list and the current status of  ‘found it, ate it’:

Honeycomb-shaped naked oat noodles you mian kao lao lao
Fish-shaped sorghum noodles gao liang mian yu
Knife cut noodles dao xiao mian – found it here and there, delicious!

Hand pulled noodles la mian – of course, the queen of hand made noodles, my favorite of 2011 and of 2012. Of course there are sub-varieties of the actual La Mian from super thin angel hair to triangular, round and fat to flat La Mian. In Singapore you can try those at Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao outlets.

Dragon whiskers noodles long xu mian 
Chopstick sorghum noodles ti ba gu
Pinched noodles jiu pian
Shaved noodles ti jian
Cat eared pasta (Chinese orrechiete) mao er duo
Sorghum buckwheat noodle strands he le
Shaanxi chewy belt noodles shaanxi you po che mian – this is very nice and chewy!

Only how will I find all the other different shapes?

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Who would think that you could find a La Mian stall in a business hotel on Orchard Road in Singapore?

The Orchard Hotel features the noodles restaurant in one corner of its lobby floor.  It was opened already in May 2012 and is more a bar or bistro than restaurant. I did not take notice of its existence until today.

Recently they hired the new chef Xu Ai Min for noodles from Beijing and put in some advertising effort which successfully reached out to La Mian World. Well, I stumbled over it by coincidence while googling.

I was a bit sceptical about the setting, but it is actually quite nice and bright inside the huge glass facade of the hotel. The place is as simple as it gets with a menu concentrating on the most important La Mian dishes like beef La Mian, Dan Dan Mian, minced pork La Mian and a couple more fancy ones like one with Abalone. Interiorwise noodles features only the bar with the La Mian chef,  one friendly waiter and some bistro tables.

I went to have You Po Mian and my lovely companion ordered the La Mian soup with vegetable and pork dumplings. You have four choices of noodles: either the classic round, super thin, flat or egg noodles. Both dishes were ordered with flat La Mian. The expert chef went to pulling and hitting the dough as I was snapping away at his fast motions. Some perfect La Mian noodles emerged from his hands and submerged into the boiling water.

The meal was served in no time and looked fantastic on nice white china. I must admit that I would have wished my La Mian to be a bit more chewy but in essence both the dishes were excellent.

Which way will the art of La Mian making go? Is it a dying art or will we have La Mian outlets mushrooming up soon at every corner like Starbucks cafes?

noodles, Orchard Hotel Singapore, 442 Orchard Road, Singapore 238879

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The best La Mian in 2012!

The time around New Year’s is the time of new year’s resolutions, bucket lists, reviews, best-off’s etc. Here at La Mian World we also sat down to look back on the past year of 2012 and collected some statistical facts. This is it:

I ate La Mian in four different countries: Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and Thailand.

I consumed approximately 50 bowls of La Mian, of these 47 were consumed in Singapore.

I betrayed the cause of La Mian World by eating Japanese Ramen, Vietnamese Phở and Italian Pasta an uncounted number of times.

Running through the list of places I patronized I decided to nominate the top five best La Mian stalls, restaurants, shops and hawkers in Singapore. Just to remember, the La Mian World criteria for excellency in La Mian are

1. Freshness: The noodles have to be hand pulled freshly for every dish served,

2. Craftsmanship: When you look at the noodles you must utter: ‘wow, that is amazing how evenly sized they are, although he just pulled them in front of my eyes’ (bonus points for front-of-the-eye-open-kitchen-la-mian-expert-chef-pulling),

3. Experience: In your mouth the La Mian are blowing you away with their balanced composition of texture, al-dente-ness and flavour of the dough,

4. Composition: Neither the sauce, soup, meat or whatever it is the dish consists of, can dominate over the noodle. The La Mian speak for themself but are complemented with superior sides.

This is the La Mian top five billboard chart hit list:

Which is your favorite La Mian outlet in Singapore or any place around the world?

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Did I mention before that La Mian World is not a food blog?

Actually I intended to start a world-noodle-revolution.

Since the invasion of Sushi in the 1990s in the USA and the 2000s in Europe I kept asking myself, why can La Mian not do the same. It is great, healthy food. Freshly handmade and a real art, just like Sushi.

Maybe it takes more to become a La Mian chef than to be a Sushi master? Maybe noodles are not exotic enough? Maybe La Mian did not find the right promoters yet?

The La Mian World blog managed to prove that La Mian is not at all mainstream but indie, underground, gothic even. The circle of readers is exquisite and shy.

On the other hand it might be attributable to my failure to ride the wave of social media successfully.

Where am I getting at here?  I need your support to start the real La Mian revolution! Come and join me!

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After a series of disappointing visits to some places that did not fulfill the very strict criteria established by La Mian World, I took a break from experimenting and had the real deal at Imperial Treasure La Mian Xiao Long Bao located at Marina Square mall. Yes, it is a bit tiring, that you end up in another shopping center and sit in the middle of the buzz of shoppers around. But also, yes, they do have excellent, fresh and expert made, hand pulled noodles here.

With this soothing experience giving me peace of (noodle) mind, I was excited to travel to Taipei. The capital city of Taiwan must hold some La Mian secrets for me to discover as it is, for starters, the home of Din Tai Fung. Their La Mian is decent and we don’t have to talk about the quality of the Xiao Long Bao.

I started searching the web (as Apple’s Siri would say: “I don’t know what you mean by La Mian. May I search the web for you?”). To my surprise it proved to be more challenging to find a La Mian place in Taipei than I expected. It seems that, first of all, the Taipeinese are not as food blog crazy as the Singaporeans. Or, if they are, they may write in Mandarin, which I happen to neither speak nor read.

After endless crawling through web searches and hours of walking through the fascinating streets of Taipei I ended up at Xiao Liu La Mian located close to the Technology Building metro station.

I must have been the first customer of the day as I entered the small restaurant shortly after 11 in the morning already hungry for some carbs infusion. The interior looked more than promising with an open, glass window kitchen with space for the chef pulling the noodles in view of the patrons. The walls were decked out with murals depicting the art of La Mian pulling. The friendly lady and only staff in the entire place seemed to me as if she would be the one pulling it off here. However, to my great disappointment, she was pulling no dough nor was any other chef appearing miraculously.

My beef La Mian was prepared with already pre-pulled noodles. The soup and noodles were good. But after all the effort and time I put into searching and finding this one place I was utterly disappointed about the missing pull here.

I shall come back to Taipei and get some professional help next time to find the right place!

Imperial Treasure La Mian Xiao Long Bao, 6 Raffles Boulevard, #02-138J Marina Square, Singapore (up-date March 2013: this restaurant is closed)

Xiao Liu La Mian, 223 Heping E Rd, Sec 2, Taipei City, Taiwan

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Some trace back the history of modern-day shopping centers to the grand bazaars of the Orient. Through the retail evolution from downtown via main street shopping to mega malls, the concept has taken over the entire globe. Asia replaced the USA as the location with the largest, craziest and especially most fancy shopping temples. Today the world’s most gigantic malls are found in communist China. Asia loves luxury brands, brands in general and chain stores especially. This is not only true for the consumer’s love for cars, clothes or watches. It is also true for food.

Fine dining restaurants of celebrity chefs evolve into global chains like Wolfgang Puck’s Cut or Daniel Boulud’s db Bistro Moderne, which touched down in Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands’ The Shoppes. The Shoppes are themself a gigantic mall with a collection of high-profile names’ restaurants and sporting the Pangea night club. The latter reportedly serves Asia’s most expensive cocktail at 32,000 Singapore Dollar per glass.

La Mian World is dedicated to the quest for the perfect hand-made noodle. This quest started with the hole in the wall noodle stalls in China. This simple shops for fast food in its literally meaning never fail to impress with the quality of their food, amazing flavours and perfectly hand crafted noodles. Even in Singapore nowadays, a city hailed for its cleanliness and organisation you can find these simplest of places of Northern Chinese influence in and around the Pearl Center in Singapore. The next step towards commercialisation is the Hawker Centre. Ultimately the search will bring you to one of the malls. The Shoppes own food court has a La Mian outlet with a chef pulling the dough. However, the most common evolution of the La Mian stall is the restaurant or of the the chain restaurants serving the Shanghainese cuisine with a string of La Mian incorporated.  Din Tai Fung, Crystal Jade, Imperial Treasure and others have outlets across Asia(‘s malls).

Kuala Lumpur is mostly underestimated when talking about Asian mega cities while Hong Kong, Manila or Jakarta jump into mind immediately. As  any Asian city with some self-respect, Kuala Lumpur has a mind-boggling concentration of mega malls just within walking distance of its center: KL City Center, Berjaya Times Square and Pavillion Kuala Lumpur to name just a few.

No wonder a quick internet search for a place to have some La Mian for lunch brought me to a MALL. Not the usual candidate like Crystal Jade, a restaurant by the name of dragon-i caught my eye. As was to be suspected also this is not a single-outlet-only place. With a very similar menu to Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao it throws in some Sizchuan and Beijing dishes. The interior of the dragon-i in Pavillion Kuala Lumpur feartures some interesting red plastic brick walls and  Xian soldier sculptures standing around. Overall it looks a lot more fancy than Crystal Jade and they seem to have sense for special effect and drama as can be witnessed in their La Mian pulling video: dragon-i la mian drama

I tried their seafood La Mian and the Xiao Long Bao. Although the presentation, juicyness and looks of the XLB were not entirely convincing, the taste was very good. The La Mian were pulled in the open kitchen by a seemingly very experienced chef. I felt that it took him only nano-seconds to produce my noodles. I enjoyed my bowl of freshly made fare and dreamt of some hole in the wall noodle shop in China….

Dragon-i, Pavillion Kuala Lumpur, Lot 1 .13, Level 1, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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