Mung bean jelly noodle with chili sauce at Chengdu Taste
Mung bean jelly noodle with chili sauce at Chengdu Taste
Jim Thurman

A Brief Guide to the San Gabriel Valley's Unsung Noodle Types

Spend any time in the San Gabriel Valley and you’ll quickly realize the wide scope of the Chinese noodle. From long, thin, perfectly formed, hand-pulled strands to rough-hewn knife-cut, noodles come in a variety of shapes, sizes and preparations. They’re kneaded, cut, extruded, peeled, pulled and even flicked.

While rice and wheat dominate — rice in the south, wheat in the north, with the Yangtze River roughly marking the demarcation between the grain of choice — Chinese noodles often are made from an interesting range of other flours and starches. Here’s a quick guide on where to find those unique varieties in the SGV.

Sheet Teny of Green BeansEXPAND
Sheet Teny of Green Beans
Jim Thurman

Mung bean

Made from mung bean starch, which is often cut into thick, squared-off strands that led to the nickname “matchstick noodles,” these noodles are the most easily found of the ones rounded up here. Bathed in a spicy and vinegary sauce, the noodles are a common item at most Sichuan-style restaurants, including the acclaimed Chengdu Taste and Szechuan Impression. In Dongbei in northeast China, the wide and flat mung bean noodles are served with a mix of vegetables, black vinegar, garlic, mustard and sesame sauce. This dish can be found under a variety of names at most Dongbei-style restaurants in the SGV,  including the two, unrelated Shen Yang Restaurants.

Chengdu Taste, 828 W. Valley Blvd., Alhambra; (626) 588-2284; 8526 W. Valley Blvd., Rosemead; (626) 899-8886.

Szechuan Impression, 1900 W. Valley Blvd., Alhambra; (626) 283-4622.

Shen Yang Restaurant, 137 S. San Gabriel Blvd., San Gabriel; (626) 292-5758.

Steamed Pingyao-style buckwheat flour crepesEXPAND
Steamed Pingyao-style buckwheat flour crepes
Jim Thurman

Buckwheat

Shanxi Province is known for a mind-boggling array of noodles — literally hundreds. Two Shanxi-style noodle houses opened in the latter part of 2015 and offer distinct versions of buckwheat noodles. Lao Xi Noodle House serves thick, knife-cut dao xiao mian buckwheat noodles, while Shanxi Noodle House has Pingyao-style buckwheat crepes, which aren’t crepes at all but cut like the Sichuan “matchstick noodles.”  

Lao Xi Noodle House, 600 E. Live Oak Ave., Arcadia; (626) 348-2290.

Shanxi Noodle House, 18219 E. Gale Ave., #A, City of Industry; (626) 839-8806.

Corn noodles
Corn noodles
Jim Thurman

Corn

Thin, long strands made from cornmeal yield noodles with a unique flavor and texture. The only place we’ve seen them is at Yao’s Restaurant in Alhambra, where they come either unadorned or full-on Korean naengmyeon style, with kimchi, slices of beef and a hard-boiled egg.

Yao's Restaurant, 1277 E. Valley Blvd., Alhambra; (626) 281-9261.

Steamed oat flour rolls with house sauceEXPAND
Steamed oat flour rolls with house sauce
Jim Thurman

Oat

Another Shanxi noodle, these broad and flat noodles made from oat flour are billed as a healthy alternative. Usually steamed and served rolled, they’re nicknamed “honeycomb noodles.” You'll find them at Shanxi Noodle House, served in a house sauce with tomatoes, green peppers and eggplant, or at Mandarin Deli in Temple City, where they’re served either steamed or stir-fried.

New Mandarin Noodle Deli, 9537 Las Tunas Drive, Temple City; (626) 309-4318.

Shanxi Noodle House, 18219 E. Gale Ave., City of Industry; (626) 839-8806.

Dry tofu with meat and hot pepper, Shen Yang Restaurant in San GabrielEXPAND
Dry tofu with meat and hot pepper, Shen Yang Restaurant in San Gabriel
Jim Thurman

Tofu

A dish of wide, noodle-like strips of dry tofu skins is served with pepper (usually, but not always, jalapeño) and bits of pork in a thickened chicken broth at Dongbei-style restaurants. Look for it as dry tofu or dry bean curd on menus.

Shen Yang Restaurant, 137 S. San Gabriel Blvd., San Gabriel; (626) 292-5758.

Yunnan yam curd at Yunnan Restaurant in Monterey ParkEXPAND
Yunnan yam curd at Yunnan Restaurant in Monterey Park
Jim Thurman

Yam

Despite the name, these noodles have nothing to do with yams. They're made from the corm of the amorphophallus konjac plant, which is then turned into a gelatinous block of starch from which thick, knife-cut, purplish noodles are carved. Find them under the tofu section of the menu as Yunnan Yam Curd at two of the only Yunnan-style restaurants around. Yunnan Garden in San Gabriel has them stir-fried with dried peppers, garlic, ginger and scallions, while Yunnan Restaurant in Monterey Park has them stir-fried with cabbage.

Yunnan Garden, 545 W. Las Tunas Drive, San Gabriel; (626) 308-1896.

Yunnan Restaurant, 301 N. Garfield Ave., Suite B, Monterey Park; (626) 571-8387.

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