nanzhou hand drawn noodle house

Nanzhou Hand Drawn Noodle House is one of the first places I ate at when I moved down to the area about 2 years ago. It’s a real tiny place, seating maybe about 40 or less. On busy days, you may have to knock elbows with strangers at the communal round table (I’ve done it before). It’s worth it though, you can get a pretty tasty (and cheap) bowl of noodles.

Their noodles are fresh and hand drawn right in the back. You can see em from the dining area. I was fascinated when I saw chefs in China doing this and was glad that I found a place here that pulls noodles!

The following was ordered at our table:

beef noodles

seafood noodles

lamb noodles

peanut sauce noodles

I don’t go to Chinatown as much as I used to, so it’s been a while since I made it back here. You bet I’m glad I stopped by though. Everything was pretty good, though I’d stick with the beef noodles. I went with the lamb this time and it just wasn’t as awesome as I’d hoped. There were a lot of bones and it just wasn’t as enjoyable as the beef (beef was my go-to previously). My brother got the seafood and he seemed to enjoy it. In addition to everything, I ordered peanut noodles to share. They’re only $3, so why not! Pretty fantastic too. I was totally craving these for lunch yesterday….if I only worked nearby…

Nanzhou Hand Drawn Noodle House
927 Race Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

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cooking: dan dan mian (擔擔麵)

So I spent 6 weeks in Shanghai, China for a study abroad program back in school. It was easily the best 6 weeks of my life and I got to try some pretty amazing food while I was out there. Only then, did I first get to try and realize what Sichuan food was really like. Shanghai is not in the Sichuan province, but in China, they have region specific restaurants all over and you can experience foods from the different provinces when you’re in a big city.

Anyway, what I’m trying to get across… I went to a Sichuan restaurant and my mind was blown. Sichuan food uses hua jiao, the Sichuan peppercorn, which gives Sichuan food it’s tingly, numbing mouthfeel. Not only did I become addicted to hua jiao, I also became addicted to Sichuan dishes such as dan dan mian (a spicy noodle dish) and mapo doufu (a spicy tofu dish). The entire time I was there, I couldn’t get over that the Chinese food served in the US is nowhere near as awesome as the food in China. Within weeks of being back in the US, I was China obsessed and craved some of the food I was eating just weeks ago. Luckily, I stumbled across Fuchsia Dunlop’s Land of Plenty and ordered it immediately.

hua jiao, sichuan peppercorn

Back in college, I cooked a lot from this book and her Hunan cookbook, Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook. I learned a bunch about the ingredients used in Sichuan and Hunan dishes and had many fantastic meals. Unfortunately, I haven’t been making Chinese food as of late. No real reason, I just kind of forgot about it I guess. Luckily, I had a hankering for dan dan mian the other day and I pulled out Land of Plenty and came up with a recipe which is kind of a mix between two of the dan dan mian recipes she has in her book.

some of the ingredients you may need (clockwise from bottom: noodles, scallions, sesame paste, shaoxing, peanut oil, chili oil, sesame oil, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, ground roasted sichuan peppercorn)

Dan Dan Mian 擔擔麵
Adapted from Fuchsia Dunlop’s Land of Plenty
Serves 2-4

-1 lb. chinese noodles (I like to use Twin Marquis lo mein noodles
-6 scallions, chopped

ingredients for meat
-1 tbsp peanut oil
-1/2 tsp ground roasted hua jiao
-4 oz ground beef
-2 tsp light soy sauce
-1 tsp shaoxing

ingredients for sauce
-1 tsp ground roasted hua jiao (can be adjusted to spice preference)
-1/4 tsp salt
-4 tsp sesame paste
-1 tbsp light soy sauce
-1 tbsp dark soy sauce
-2 tbsp chili oil

Before you start, make sure you have everything ready to go. When you cook in a wok, you have to move quickly, so it’s important everything is at hand.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Let this come to a boil while you follow the next steps. Do NOT place the noodles in the water until you’re done making the sauce.

Heat up the peanut oil over med-high heat in a wok. Just before it starts to smoke, toss the hua jiao in and stir fry quickly until fragrant. Immediately add the ground beef followed by the shaoxing. Once the meat has been separated, add the soy sauce. Stir fry until a little crispy, but not dry. Set aside when finished.

Next, whisk together all the sauce ingredients in a medium sized bowl until smooth. Make sure the sesame paste is no longer clumpy. Take about half of the scallions and toss them in the bowl. The result should look similar to this:

Once the sauce is finished, place the noodles into the water and cook for about 4-5 minutes. Drain noodles and immediately place into the bowl with the sauce. Top with ground beef.

At restaurants, the dish is served like so, sauce on the bottom, noodles, and topped with the meat. Of course, you have to stir it all up. This is why I use the large bowl. It can get messy if it’s placed in a smaller bowl.

dan dan mian

Once mixed all together, sprinkle remaining scallions on top.


This dish keeps me sane between visits to Han Dynasty.

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02.19.2010 – day three – thai thai

Finally Friday! I started the day off with some fresh homemade pancakes my sister made. For lunch, I packed some leftover Margherita French Bread Pizza.

I made the journey up to Wilkes-Barre to visit my friend after work and we ended up having dinner at Thai Thai. Thai Thai is a Thai restaurant (obviously) which actually opened up a second restaurant, known as Thai Thai II, in Bethlehem, PA. I’ve had great experiences at the Bethlehem location so I was really looking forward to this meal. It was “white tablecloth” and had a relaxing, comfortable atmosphere.

For the appetizer we ordered golden triangles (I believe they were called). They were triangles of fried tofu, served with a sweet and sour sauce and crushed peanut. My friend ordered the vegetarian drunken noodles for his entree, and I ordered the vegetarian pad thai (shown at top). All the dishes were pretty good, definitely on par with what I’ve had at the Bethlehem restaurant. The meal also made me realize how much I enjoy tofu. I really need to start cooking with it more.

Also, while we dined, there were about three birthday celebrations. The Thai Thai birthday celebration is as follows: A multicolored disco light turns on. Groovy, laugh inducing birthday music plays. The staff dance their way to the celebrants table while singing Happy Birthday. Some of the staff attempt to dance with the celebrant. Very, very entertaining. Definitely try to celebrate your or a friend’s birthday here.

Thai Thai
41 South Main Street
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18701

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