Noodles are an essential ingredient and staple in Chinese cuisine. Chinese love eating noodles for centuries. Especially for many northern Chinese, nothing beats digging into a bowl of lip-smacking noodles. Noodles remain the most important staple food and source of nutrition for northern Chinese, most of whom eat noodles far more frequently than rice that is more popular in southern China.
There is a great variety of Chinese noodles, which vary according to different regions of production, ingredients, shape or width, and manner of preparation. Noodles eaten by Chinese come in varying widths and thicknesses and usually long because it symbolizes long life to the Chinese, which is why noodles commonly served at birthday celebrations are called longevity noodles. The shapes of Chinese noodles may not vary as much as do those of Italian pasta, but the different ingredients used to make Chinese noodles do set one variety apart from the next. Now I will take you find out top ten famous noodles which are most widely recognized in China.
Re Gan Mian (Hot Dry Noodles) from Wuhan
Hot dry noodles, called Re Gan Mian in Chinese pinyin, is a traditional dish of Wuhan in central China. It is the favorite choice for breakfast by Wuhan people, and is often sold in street carts in residential area. Wuhan people like to go to restaurant or street to eat Re Gan Mian and most of them don’t meke Re Gan Mian at home.The chef first cooks the fresh noodles mixed with sesame oil in boiling water. When the noodles have cooked and cooled, it becomes pliable. Before eating, the noodles will be cooked in the same process again. Finally, dressings including spring onion, seasoning made of sesame sauce, spiced sauce, sesame oil, vinegar and chili oil will be added. Most visitors will have a try when they pay a visit to Wuhan.
Zha Jiang Mian (Fried Sauce Noodles) from Beijing
Fried sauce noodles from Beijing, called Zha Jiang Mian in Chinese pinyin, is a Chinese dish consisting of thick wheat noodles coated in a hearty meat sauce made with ground pork or beef, hoisin sauce and brown bean sauce topped with a mixture of ground pork, cucumber, green beans, soybeans, firm tofu, etc. There is no hard and fast rule. Use whatever sauce you like and can find. Mix before eating. It is said that it tastes better with hand pulled noodles.
Lanzhou Lamian (Hand Pulled noodles) from Gansu Province
Hand pulled noodles, called Lanzhou Lamian in Chinese pinyin is known for its colorful presentation of white radish, red chili oil, green coriander leaves and yellow noodles in a clear beef broth from Lanzhou in northwest China’s Gansu Province. Literally, “La” means to pull or stretch, while “Mian” means noodle.
Lamian is made by twisting, stretching and folding the dough into strands, using the weight of the dough. The hand-making process involves taking a lump of dough and repeatedly stretching it to produce many strands of thin, long noodle. The length and thickness of the strands depends on the number of times the dough is folded. This unique method of making noodles originated in China.
Among all Lanzhou Lamian types, Lanzhou Beef Lamian is favored by most people. The first meal to eat is always Lanzhou Beef Lamian when Lanzhou people entertain their guests from afar. Local Lanzhou people would eat a bowl of Lanzhou Beef Lamian when they leave Lanzhou. Lanzhou Beef Lamian is the specialty of Lanzhou. Now La Mian restaurants are prevalent in most cities of China, though Lanzhou La Mian is sort of Muslim style.
Dao Xiao Mian (knife-cut noodles) from Shanxi Province
Originally from north China’s Shanxi Province, knife-cut noodles, called Dao Xiao Mian in Chinese pinyin are reputed to be one of the most famous noodles in China. The noodles are cut and cooked from a slab of wheat dough.
Dao Xiao Mian is very different from other noodles in terms of shape. The noodles are short, thick and irregularly shaped as they are cut off from the dough into the soup by knife. The method of making them is an art form that takes years of practice. There are a variety of toppings for dao xiao mian, with the most common ones pork and sweet bean paste. Vinegar is also an essential element since Shanxi Province is the most famous place in China for making vinegar.
Dan Dan Mian (Sichuan Spicy Dandan Noodles)
Sichuan spicy dandan noodles, called Dan Dan Mian in Chinese pinyin is originated from Sichuan province of China, the birthplace of many spicy dishes such as kung pao chicken, mapo tofu, hot and sour soup etc. There are different varieties such as Chongqing and Chengdu, different parts of Sichuan.
Dan Dan Mian is a kind of Sichuan classic springy wheat noodles served in a spicy mix of Sichuan preserved vegetables usually za cai, scallions, chili oil, vinegar, peppercorn flakes and occasionally peanut powder or sesame paste topped by minced pork with varying amounts of broth depending on who is making the noodles. The beauty of Dan Dan Mian lies in how the noodles are able to soak up the combination of tartness, chili spice and peppercorn numbness of the sauce and the toppings.
Hui Mian (Henan Stewed Noodles) from Henan Province
Henan stewed noodles called Hui Mian in Chinese pinyin is a traditional Henan style of hand-pulled noodles with a long history dating back more than 800 years.
Hui Mian usually cooked with mutton and vegetables is a popular snack among local zhengzhou people. Cook the noodles in the fresh mutton soup, and then put deep cooked mutton, Citron Daylily and Agaric (A variety of Mushroom) into the soup to braise for several minutes. Scatter some coriander and chili oil onto Hui Mian before serving, for added flavour. In Henan province of China, the most famous noodle restaurant is Xiaoji Hui Mian Restaurant, one of which branch is located at 27, Huozhan Beijie, Zhengbian Lu, Zhengzhou, Henan, China.
Saozi Mian (Noodles with Diced Pork) from Qishan of Shaanxi Province
Saozi Mian (saozi in Chinese pinyin meaning sister-in-law who originally made this specialty noodles in legendary Chinese ancient story) is a homonym of the dish’s original name, referring in Shaanxi dialect to the spicy sauce with fragments of meat that accompany the noodles. Shaanxi locals prefer to eat noodles. People in Qishan County of Baoji City like Saozi Noodles the most. Every family knows how to make it and regards it as a great delicacy during festivals. Years of innovation and refinement have transformed their preparation into an art.
The Saozi Mian is basically dry noodles with diced potatoes, pork, wood ear mushrooms, carrots, day lily, egg and beancurd which together compromise five colors, red from carrots, green from garlic bolts, black from wood ear fungus, yellow from eggs and white from beancurd, expressing people’s wishes for a better life. Black and white signifies distinct attitudes towards what’s right and what’s wrong. Yellow stands for riches and honor. Red carries wishes for a better life, and green represents vitality. All the ingredients are diced and deep-fried. The noodles must be hand-made of good wheat flour. They are thin, pliable, smooth, hot, watery, greasy, sour, spicy and savory. The taste – sour and hot but not pungent – is the essence of Qishan Saozi Mian. All of those make it unique in taste, color and smell and the local people never seem to tire of it.
You Pu Che Mian (Biang Biang Noodles) from Shannxi Province
Biang biang noodles, called in Chinese pinyin as You Pu Che Mian are a special kind of spicy and dry cut-noodle created, founded and popular in Shaanxi province of China. The noodles, touted as one of the “ten strange wonders of Shaanxi”, are described as being like a belt, due to their thickness and length. The noodles are broad and hand-made topped with lots of red hot peppers for the cold winter in Shaanxi.
The noodle is actually not famous for its taste, but for its weird character name. Legend has it that in the ancient time, there was no such character or meaning for this word in the beginning, and the word actually came from the sound people make from chewing such delicious noodles “biang biang biang”. There is no standard way to write the character ‘biang’ in Chinese. According to records, there are at least 8 different ways to write ‘biang’ in Chinese, yet all of them are made up of 58 strokes, which make ‘biang’ one of the most complex Chinese characters. Interesting thing is this character is not published in any Chinese dictionaries; furthermore, experts believe that the character was specially created for Biangbiang noodles.
Anyway, with a unique name, an interesting background story and savoury taste, Biangbiang noodles is definitely a can’t-miss part when you visit China’s Shannxi Province. There are many stalls offer Biangbiang noodles in its popular place Xi’an, yet this is definitely the most famous and oldest one located at No. 80 Nanyuan Men, Beilin District, Xi’an, Shannxi, China.
Guo Gai Mian (Saucepan Lid Noodles) from Zhenjiang
Saucepan lid noodles called guo gai mian also Huo mian, is a local treat of noodles in Zhenjiang, east China’s Jiangsu province. The noodle enjoys great fame in Jiangnan region (literally, the area south of Yangtze River). It is known as No.1 Noodle in Jiangnan.
The guo gai mian is one kind of cooked wheaten food, with clear soup and soft noodles, neither sticky nor tangled, affordable. The unique formula, strange making method, together with the mixed flavor, make Guo gai mian a century-old famous snack. It has been successfully reported as municipal and provincial intangible cultural heritage.
Leng Mian (Cold Noodles) from Yanji of Jilin Province
Anyone interested in Korean culture should know something about Yanji. It is a city located in Jilin province of China, very close to the border with North Korea, so the cold noodles in Yanji are as genuine as Korean style.
Cold noodles called Leng Mian in Chinese pinyin is Korean traditional specialty. The noodles are topped with beef, apple, pickled cabbages usually. The noodles differ in size, shape as well as what it’s made of. Just before serving add a spoonful of cold sour soup from the bucket ready, eater will feel the full coldness of Yanji Leng Mian which makes a strong impression on lots of people and seems to be the most authentic. The essence is that the soup should be clear, and the floaty oil should be skimmed off speaking of beef soup. Whether soup or noodles, both should be cooling before eaten. Only in this way can the summer heat all be thrown away.