I found this little late night eatery, by sheer chance. I was going home from a late night of drinking with some friends and my stomach was taking over. My mouth started to moving, in probably, the best Chinese (since being intoxicated improves your language skills) to my taxi driver about food and such. I might have told him that I was a connoisseur of food and had a food blog. Or maybe he didn’t understand and just saw my size therefore figured I liked to eat.
I do remember him rambling about something about a local favorite (or perhaps his own) of this particular nearby noodle shop. I was excited, but also a bit worried. Since I was hungry, I was looking forward to it. But hesitate, since I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. Well, 1. I was going alone, 2. I had no idea what kind of noodles they served or served with, 3. I hoped it wasn’t too crowded, and 4. Were there taxi cabs nearby to bring me home afterwards.
Heading to new restaurants is always fun. But when you are in a foreign country, on a late night, it might be smart to go with a friend. But, since I am about 6’1″ and 200+ lbs., I realized that people might fear me in China. Another fear I had, was exploring the unknown delicacies that China had to offer. I confess that I don’t like to try strange meat parts and funny looking sea creatures. In China, people crave, not only tastes in foods, but texture as well – from the chewy to the mushy. (eww) Not only was I hungry, but I was tired. I didn’t feel like fighting a crowd to wait for a table or for food. Irritated I potentially was feeling, but more hungry I really felt at that time. And lastly, being new to the city, and still learning the roads, I had absolutely no idea where I was. Unfortunately still, after almost 3 months, I am at the mercy of the taxi cab drivers. I hope that I would find a cab afterwards and get home.
After arriving, I saw the little shop, just off a big street, which featured many cars and cabs. Inside I saw, since I hadn’t gotten off the cab, I saw a brightly lit place, with 6 small tables and with about 4 customers. So . . .I got off and started my little adventure – and prayed for something yummy and palatable for me.
The place was clean with a couple of customers outside smoking and a three young punks messing with their laptops with music videos. I saw a little corner counter where someone was counting cash – so I figured that’s where you place your order and pay. I saw everyone was eating noodles and slurping soups, yet I still asked what was the typical and popular dish everyone ordered. A waiter suggested to me that I should get the spicy noodle dish with pork. And that’s what I got. I paid 10 RMB, which is about USD 1.20. Yup – a little over a buck. Now, I hoped I was getting something good.
I found a small spot near the front counter. Above I saw this huge plack above. I was told it was a story of how they got their name. Since the name of the place literally translates into – a Spicy Meat and Noodle Shop in Shanghai from 沪上一家辣肉面馆. After taking a couple of snapshots, my noodles arrived.
The large plastic bowl of noodles were swimming around in a reddish broth. Diced chunks of pork were clumped at the top. I didn’t notice, thank goodness, for any funny looking meat organs. I dove in, trying the soup first. The spicy broth was spicy, which I would assume is more of a Hunan or Northern style style, rather than a mouth numbing southwest Sichuan flavor. I would also think that the noodles are more of a Northern China influence, since they prefer noodles over rice. The noodles were cooked al dente, which I realize is more of my personal preference. Each bite of noodles was hard and not chewy. I happily slurped up all the noodles, eat the pork, and tried to finish the spicy broth. I failed at finishing – which is rare for me. Another good thing about this place is that I think westerners and American can easily have this great noodle dish, if they can take the spiciness. One interesting note, I saw these straw dispensers, like the ones you find at McDonald’s or any fast food joint, on each table which dispensed chopsticks. That was cool.
At the end of the night, on the cab ride home, I realized I could do this again. I could visit this place and enjoy noodles for only 10 RMB or I could also venture out to check out other cool interesting places.
What to Order: the spicy noodles with pork
What not to Order: didn’t try anything else
Price Range 1 $/¥/NT