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拉面 La Mian World

the quest for the perfect noodle

Tag Archives: soba

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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During my recent trip to Japan I suffered from a Ramen overdose. A serious overdose. Although I spent the day skiing down the Niseko Annupuri mountain in perfect sunshine and acquiring a reasonable appetite for dinner I could not manage the massive portion of Ramen at Asahikawa Ramen Tozanken in Hirafu.

Everything was perfect about the dish of special Asahikawa Ramen. The soup was well-balanced, the pork tasted like the best Bavarian pork roast and the Ramen noodles were excellently cooked al-dente. I could not finish the bowl although I tried Saporro beer and Sake as supporting acts, the portion was simply too massive. So if you are looking at value for money for an outstanding energy boost after a day in the wild outdoors this is your place to go.

Luckily I recovered from this noodle shock in the meantime and I am ready to head back to the Ramen Champion in Singapore. This excellent collection of eight of the best Ramen restaurants (so they claim) from Japan is located at Iluma Bugis shopping centre and in Changi Airport. I only visited the Iluma outlet so far. It is a nice set-up of original styled Ramen shops with the typical flags, counters and lots of steam from the boiling water and soups. Indeed you get some Ramen varieties here in one spot in Singapore that you normally don’t find so easily elsewhere in the city. You should visit a couple of times to try the different Ramen styles – it is worth it.

Once in a while you might want to diversify your diet or just need to eat some really good dessert. Then you should try the J.S. Burgers Cafe in Tokyo. Burgers Cafe does not sound like the right place for dessert but in this case it is. I tried the cheesecake and the chocolate cake. I have no idea what their burgers are like but the atmosphere of this place on a rooftop in Shinjuku is great and the cakes tasted  just outstanding. After two slices of sweet cake I am sure ready for more salty noodles!

Asahikawa Ramen Tozanken, Hirafu, Hokkaido, Japan

Ramen Champion, Iluma Bugis Level 4 and Changi Airport Terminal 3 Basement 2, Singapore

J.S. Burgers Cafe, 3F, 4-1-7 Shinjuku-ku, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan (third floor of the Journal Standard fashion shop)

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I love everything handmade. In our universe of plastic artificiality, pre-processed food, air conditioning, long distance air travel and the online world, it is great to see someone prepare food by hand in front of your eyes.

Recently I stopped by the huge glass window of one of the basement restaurants in Paragon shopping mall in Singapore’s Orchard Road. Some chef was rolling out dough on a massive marble table with a wooden broom stick. I was standing in front of the Shimbashi Soba restaurant. Here they serve an extensive variety of Soba noodle dishes. And the best thing: the Soba noodles are freshly made every day by the Soba noodle chef I was watching in the shop window in front of me.

I had to control my hunger and watch first: The dough had to be rolled out and then rolled up around the broomstick again, many, many times and many times more. Finally the chef rolled it out to an almost perfect square filling the whole marble table. Throwing a lot of white flour on the even surface of future soba noodles, he now folded it up like a bed sheet. The rectangular bed sheet was now cut with a big knife into thin slices and thus becoming the noodles itself. It was almost as fascinating to watch as the pulling of La Mian.

Finally I settled in the restaurant to have my Soba noodles served. Pronto! The lunch bento sets are not exactly cheap ranging from 17 to 29 Singapore Dollars but you are served a great selection of Japanese Tapas and a bowl of excellent Soba noodles either chilled or in a hot broth. I recommend to try the cold ones as the noodles tend to get soft very fast in the hot soup. By the way, they do Udon noodles as well. I will come back to try those next time.

Shimbashi Soba,  #B1-41 The Paragon,  290 Orchard Road, Singapore 238859

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