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Where To Find China's Most Famous Noodle Dishes In The San Gabriel Valley

People surround a cauldron to eat noodles at Bailongtan Temple Fair on March 21, 2015 in Anyang, Henan province of China. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images) (VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
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The San Gabriel Valley is home to the broadest, deepest Chinese restaurant scene in the United States, with access to regional dishes rarely found in other parts of the country. In 2013, China's Ministry of Commerce and its Hotel Association teamed up to release a list of the country's "Top 10 Famous Noodles." Sure, it's a tourism-generating shtick. Sure, you can quibble about the regional favorites that were overlooked. But you can't argue with the fact that seven of these delicious noodle dishes can be found in the San Gabriel Valley.

Note: While all of these restaurants are supposed to take credit cards, you should always bring cash.

Dan Dan Noodles (dan dan mian)

Sometimes listed as Tan Tan Noodles, this spicy Sichuan dish features ground pork, scallions and chili oil in a bowl of springy noodles. One of the easiest dishes to find around the SGV, it's served at most Sichuan restaurants as well as at many non-Sichuan spots. While there are many places to choose from, it's difficult to top Chongqing Special Noodles, a small restaurant specializing in noodle dishes from the city of Chongqing.

  • Chongqing Special Noodles: 708 E. Las Tunas Dr., San Gabriel. 626-374-1849.
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Knife-Cut Noodles (daoxiao mian)

Located in North Central China, Shanxi Province is known as "The Land of a Thousand Noodles." That probably isn't much of a stretch as noodles made from a variety of flours are available in an amazing array of sizes and shapes. Listed on menus as knife-cut or knife-shaved noodles, they start life as a slab of dough that's rapidly sliced with a sharp implement to create thick, rough-edged noodles. They can be ordered with various meats or vegetables and you'll find them in several SGV restaurants including JTYH Restaurant and New Mandarin Noodle Deli. Shanxi Noodle House, a decked out restaurant with a lavish menu features a noodle-making robot that shaves noodles from a block of dough — when it's functioning. At Lao Xi, a small restaurant run by a couple from the provincial capital of Taiyuan, your order will take longer to arrive but the home-style cooking makes it worth the wait.

  • JTYH Restaurant: 9425 Valley Blvd., Rosemead. 626-442-8999.
  • New Mandarin Noodle Deli: 9537 Las Tunas Dr., Temple City. 626-309-4318.
  • Shanxi Noodle House: 18219 Gale Ave., Suite A, City of Industry. 626-839-8806.
  • Lao Xi Noodle House: 600 E. Live Oak Ave., Arcadia. 626-348-2290. (Note: Cash only for orders under $20)

Lanzhou Hand-Pulled Noodles (lamian)

The famous noodle dish from the northwestern city of Lanzhou features long, thin, hand-pulled noodles served in a mild, clear broth. Thin slices of beef and radish along with chopped coriander leaves finish the dish. The only place to find it in the SGV is at China Tasty, a space that once served as the diner for the bowling alley next door. The dish you want is listed as House Special Beef Noodle Soup, and a large window lets you look at your noodles as they're being pulled by hand.

  • China Tasty: 1308 E. Valley Blvd., Alhambra. 626-457-8483.

Pian Er Chuan

This dish can be found at P&R Taste, the only SGV restaurant that serves a small selection of dishes from the southern city of Hangzhou. Listed on the menu as Shredded Pork & Mustard Greens Noodle Soup, it delivers what it promises — small strips of pork, chopped mustard greens and sliced bamboo shoots with nicely textured noodles in a chicken broth.

  • P&R Taste: 18347 Colima Rd., Rowland Heights. 626-986-4003.

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Wuhan Hot Dry Noodles With Sesame Paste (re gan mian)

The signature noodle dish from Wuhan, the capital city of Hubei Province, has a unique, chewy texture because it's cooked twice. A popular street food and breakfast item, these noodles are served with sesame paste, soy sauce, chili oil, garlic chives, chopped scallions and pickled vegetables. You'll find them at two sister restaurants that share a menu, despite their different names.

  • Qiwei Kitchen: 1741 Fullerton Rd., Rowland Heights. 626-581-4888.
  • Tasty Dining: 301 W. Valley Blvd., Suite 101, San Gabriel. 626-570-1234.

Yanji Cold Noodles (Yanji leng mian)

From Northeast China, near Korea, this refreshing dish displays the melding of cuisines you'll often find in border regions. It features long, thin noodles of buckwheat flour (or mixed buckwheat and wheat flour), julienned cucumber, kimchi, half of a hard-boiled egg and thin slices of beef, all served in a chilled, vinegar-laced beef broth. With its cooling properties, the dish is popular as an antidote to summertime heat. You'll find similar bowls of cold noodles at the few Northeast Chinese restaurants around the SGV, but Beijing Tasty House is the only one where we've seen them listed under the exact English name.

  • Beijing Tasty House: 1380 Fullerton Rd., Suite 105, Rowland Heights, 626-573-8518.
  • Beijing Tasty House: 172 E. Valley Blvd., San Gabriel, 626-573-3062.

Zha Jiang Noodles (zha jiang mian)

An easy to find item is this signature noodle dish from Beijing. It's served with small plates of mix-ins that might include beans, shredded carrots, cucumbers, chopped scallions, thin strips of dried tofu and a thick sauce of a salty bean paste with cubed and/or minced pork. A little of the sauce goes a long way, as your server will mention. While it can be found at many non-Beijing restaurants, we recommend sticking to restaurants that specialize in Beijing-style cuisine.

  • Beijing Restaurant: 18888 Labin Ct., Suite C101, Rowland Heights, 626-986-4106.
  • Beijing Restaurant: 250 W. Valley Blvd., Suite B2, San Gabriel, 626-570-8598.
  • Beijing Tasty House: 1380 Fullerton Rd., Suite 105, Rowland Heights, 626-573-8518.
  • Beijing Tasty House: 172 E. Valley Blvd., San Gabriel, 626-573-3062.

BONUS: Which of China's "most famous" noodle dishes can't you find in the San Gabriel Valley? Aozao noodles from Kunshan, Chinkiang pot cover noodles from Jiangsu and xiaoji stewed noodles from Henan. We have something to look forward to.

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