With a chill in the air, it's the perfect time of year for some soup. In the San Gabriel Valley, a steaming bowl of lamb soup with noodles is perfect for brisk days and nippy nights. A common item at restaurants featuring food from northwestern China, here are three great versions of lamb noodle soup around the SGV, all of which can be found along a less than two mile section of Valley Boulevard.
Sweethome Grill is known for two things: skewers and lamb noodle soup. They do both quite well, but the servers will proudly tell you the lamb noodle soup is their specialty. The broth is unadorned here, leaving a pure lamb flavor to permeate a bowl filled with plenty of cilantro, hand-pulled noodles, some rice vermicelli, wood ear fungus and a few small pieces of dried tofu skins. For the sheer purity and clarity of lamb, it's hard to beat, but some might prefer a bit more seasoning. The noodles are outstanding, thick and lengthy (indeed, scissors would be nice) with a great balance between softness and chewiness. 402 E. Valley Blvd., San Gabriel; 626-288-0099.
At JTYH, a restaurant specializing in food from Shanxi Province, you have a choice of hand-torn or knife-shaved noodles. The noodles are slippery and smooth with a softer texture than many other iterations, while the broth itself is slightly more seasoned. Water spinach, thin slices of tofu and chunks of quartered tomato provide nice additions in a bowl topped with some cilantro. Soup can vary at any restaurant from visit to visit, and it should be noted that in the past, JTYH had our favorite version, with a broth that was deep, rich and funky in the best of ways. 9425 Valley Blvd., Rosemead; 626-442-8999.