Sunday, January 26, 2014

Do noodles make you happy?

Noodles make me happy.
So does getting together with college friends.
And cousins.
And nieces.
And a nephew who, today at least, likes me strictly from across the room, but ADORES Uncle Big Frog enough to scootch across the floor on his bum with a treasure to share. Really.

(What? Me, jealous? Just because I picked you up and you burst into hysterical tears? See if I kidnap you and take you to the Ren Faire.)
(OK, I probably will, but not this year. But your sisters? Mine.)

I've had a yearning for knife-cut noodles for awhile now. Weeks? (Months? Years?)
I haven't had any since the 90's. Too long. And Big Frog had never had them ever, although he's seen enough Ching-He Huang on the Cooking Network to drool with Pavlovian anticipation at their mention.

Thanks to Yelp, I discovered that the best hand-drawn noodle and knife-cut noodle place in the "Harrisburg area" is in fact Nan Zhou Hand Drawn Noodle House in Chinatown Philly. That's not at all surprising, but I do wish it were closer.

If you're not familiar with the wonder that is rustic freshly made noodles, check this street vendor out on Youtube. (Primericans and mathematicians will appreciate the doubling that goes into hand-drawn nooodles. It's just 10 doubling periods to go from 1 to 1000.)

Hungry yet?
So, with a leadership event on the calendar in Philly, Big Frog and I made our usual inquiries into stopping by the Philly (Philly suburbs) cousins' place afterwards.
Alas! Alack! They were already committed for the afternoon. But if evening wasn't too late for us to come by they would be home.

That might give us enough time to pop by Chinatown.
And perhaps nosh a bit? (In my world, both Yiddish and Chinese are food languages. True? Of course true.)

Our RVP, who knows we usually visit our nieces and nephew after a Philly event, asked us for carpooling/caravaning reasons if we were doing likewise this time.
He's a gourmet chef. We mentioned Chinatown, and he would have joined us in Chinatown if he weren't driving the going-straight-home van.
'Twas the night before Star school and I was on Yelp...

And it occurred to me that several of the people who had commiserated with me about noodles were in the right geographical area to join us. The other advantage that provides is that with more people to feed and an expectation of family-style dining, we can try a LOT of different things.

Fortunately, some college friends were game. And they brought their kids and a Chinatown-loving friend. My dad asked me after the fact if they were Chinese. I said they were every bit as Chinese as Big Frog and I. We're all 余s, now.

Others sent regrets and requests for 1) pics and 2) takeout.

Pork and chives and shrimp dumplings. (We also had pork and chives dumplings. They look the same from the outside.)

Pea tips, with a tip of the hat to my Aunt M, who introduced them to me several years ago. My YenYen, dad and Aunt M's mom, used to grow them. Although my dad says he'd never had them until I introduced them to him... ummm...
Fish ball soup with hand-drawn noodles. And props to J for dishing them out all around the table! Bear in mind that it's technically all one enormous noodle. Longevity for New Year's indeed! I was surprised and pleased that the youngest kid liked the fish balls the most.

The Yelp absolute-must-try, and my personal favorite, Beef brisket with knife-cut noodles.

UNfortunately, although we got a few snapshots, we dived into two of our dishes before getting photos. Forgive us! Fortunately, they were stir-frys. We had a chicken with hand-drawn noodle and a roast pork with knife-cut noodle.

Eight people ate four entrees, a veg, and three orders of dumplings. We figured we'd start there and order more as we figured out what we liked best. Except that we ended up with leftovers from just that much. (Do noodles multiply? I could definitely see Jesus feeding 5000 Chinese on nothing but umami. Stone soup is real, friends. Sometimes it's the best soup you can make.)
But wait! Cousins! Nieces! A small but surprisingly ravenous nephew! Their function finished, we arranged a rendezvous and ordered... Takeout! More noodles!

Three orders went to their home with us. We ate and were satisfied... and once again had leftovers.

See you Monday, Coach! It is your lucky day.

Tangentially... New Year's is this coming Friday. Just FYI, here's an intriguing Feng Shui take on this year. Happy year of the Horse! Gung hay fat choy!

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