Sweet Home Grill, San Gabriel
SHG has been drawing a good amount of attention of late, including as the #1 handmade Chinese noodle in L.A. Naturally, I had to try it, toting along two friends to help with the portion control (as I found out the other day, I’m both prediabetic and have high cholesterol. My days of 3-4 noodles/week = over). SHG serves very very very long handmade noodles. Almost annoying long. But they have great texture.
The beef noodle soup, pictured above, was solid. Decent broth. The dish did include glass noodles which I found to be distracting; didn’t need ‘em. We also tried cold noodles with sesame sauce and that was also quite good, especially with the tang of vinegar hanging off them. Their cold cucumber was quite good and their cumin lamb skewers were also good, but nothing mind-blowing.
Noodle Boy, San Gabriel.
This place is popular and their beef pho is fine but I’m always left underwhelmed by it. Same does for their pho filet (made with sliced filet mignon) b
Wang Xing Ji, San Gabriel.
This is a classic pickled greens and pork noodle soup, very well executed. The broth is simple and clean and I like that they serve the greens on the side. I don’t know if I’d go here just for this dish but it’s works well enough as a complement to other dishes, especially their dumplings.
Nha Trang, Monterey Park.
Nha Trang has a new, second location now, on Garvey, a few blocks west of New Ave. The menu is even smaller than at their Valley location: four food items, including a beef pho which I don’t believe they ever served at the original restaurant. Like all their noodle soups, Nha Trang executed with such clean excellence. It won’t make you rethink pho as you know it but it will be a supremely good bowl. No pho ga at this location, btw.
Shin-sen-gumi Hakata Ramen, Little Tokyo.
Never had been to this branch of SSG but their ramen is always consistently good even if it’s not as mind-blowing as other boutique ramen spots. I always get hard noodles, strong base, light oil.
Banh Mi Che Cali, Monterey Park.
This is from the Garvey Ave. location of BMCC. It’s a decent pho ga but the real reason to go is because it’s $3; crazy good deal. The chicken isn’t as lean as what you’ll find elsewhere and the broth, while savory enough, is a tad one dimensional.
Thanh Thai, Monterey Park
Having probably overdone it on the pho ga tip, I decided to switch things up and roll through Thanh Thai, this hole-in-the-wall spot two doors down from Huge Tree Pastry, off of Atlantic, north of Garvey. They have a special soup noodle of the day, and today it was bun trang, which uses slices of chicken and slivers of ham (normally it also comes with egg but I left that out). The soup is slightly spicy but only slightly and it comes with those mega slippery round rice noodles that no implement can adequately capture. It was a good way to start the morning; not an extraordinary soup and I think I would have liked the chicken better shredded but the savory-ness was pleasant and the whole thing felt hearty (which is good when you’re having it for breakfast).
Henan Flavor, NYC
Like Xi’an Famous Foods which I wrote about recently, Henan Flavor is another transplant from Flushing and the menu is very similar: heavily Xinjiang influenced, complete with hand-pulled noodles, spicy cumin, etc. (This was another rec from my dude Leonard Shek).
That’s lamb noodles above, basically very similar to the version I adore at JYTH. This was, to be quite candid, disappointing. The noodles were very obviously overcooked and the broth was rather bland, lacking the intense lamb-iness that I’ve found in other versions back in L.A.
Likewise, they also have da pan gi (aka “big plate of chicken”) which you can now find in L.A. at both Omar’s Halal and Shaanxi Gourmet. This, I thought, compared very favorably with other versions I’ve had. It has a little bit of the “mah lah” numbing peppers but they don’t go too heavy, thus still letting you taste the food without feeling like you got hit with a spray of novocaine to the tongue. We got beef braised noodles too which were better since the noodles were more al dente. It was fine but again, nothing that noteworthy. Similarly, the XLB there were good. Not too big but also nothing spectacular. Their stewed pork buns/”burgers” were good but definitely not as awesome as XFF’s.
Xi’an Famous Foods, East Village NYC.
I’ve been wanting to try this place for well over a year so perhaps I set my expectations a tad too high. The stewed pork “burger” was very much on-point, a much better version than what I’ve had at Shanxii Gourmet. But their spicy cumin lamb noodles were…well, kind of middling. Reminded me of a spicier version of a black bean chow fun. The noodles were dense and chewy (good) but I felt also a bit on the mushy side (bad) and definitely not as enjoyable as some of the hand-pulled noodles I’ve had elsewhere. Maybe it was just an “off plate” but definitely didn’t live up to what I was hoping for.
Hide-Chan Ramen, Manhattan
Thanks to Leonard Shek for rolling thru here with me. Pretty solid hakata-style ramen; not shy on the salt!