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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 Beans; Credit: Jim Thurman

Sheet Teny of Green Beans; Credit: 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 crepes; Credit: Jim Thurman

Steamed Pingyao-style buckwheat flour crepes; Credit: 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; Credit: Jim Thurman

Corn noodles; Credit: 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 (CLOSED), 1277 E. Valley Blvd., Alhambra; (626) 281-9261.

Steamed oat flour rolls with house sauce; Credit: Jim Thurman

Steamed oat flour rolls with house sauce; Credit: 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 Gabriel; Credit: Jim Thurman

Dry tofu with meat and hot pepper, Shen Yang Restaurant in San Gabriel; Credit: 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 Park; Credit: Jim Thurman

Yunnan yam curd at Yunnan Restaurant in Monterey Park; Credit: 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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