Sunday, January 24, 2016
Completing The Shanghai Noodle Trilogy With Chao Mian At Gourmet Noodle House
I was hoping for some nice fat Shanghai cu mian (粗面) when I headed to Gourmet Noodle House to complete a trilogy of noodle dish types. I'd already had their soup noodles (tang mian), two exemplary versions, in fact, and the house Shanghai-style tossed noodles (ban mian). It was time to vet the fried version (chao mian, or "chow mein" if you will).
A mention of Shanghai chow mein may automatically call up images of the characteristic fat, udon-like noodle the Shanghainese call cu mian (粗面, "thick noodle") sometimes used in this dish. In reality, this is as much the exception as it is the rule for chow mein in Shanghai; home cooks find it a daunting task to bring this noodle to the right degree of done-ness in a stir-fry, and for the ubiquitous street-side chow mein vendors who freshly stir-fry noodles for their customers, it would be too time-consuming. For Gourmet Noodle House, it makes sense to stick with the medium-thick house-made alkaline noodles the chain is known for.
The shao mai were Shanghai-style, as my server promised, with most of the savory filling provided by soy-sauce infused rice. They were a well-tonsured version, lacking the prepuce-like top to the the money-bag shape Shanghai shao mai sometimes come in. Cut or uncut, they were nonetheless tasty.
Where slurped: Gourmet Noodle House, 3751 Geary Blvd., San Francisco