My attraction today was N2, "Noodles W/ Scallions and Dry Shrimp." The Chinese in the menu identifies the noodles as 拌麵 (ban mian, pronounced like bü mi by Shanghainese), not to be confused with the Fujianese "ban mian" which are flat, square shaved or hand torn noodles. Shanghai's "ban mian," or "tossed noodles" are sometimes compared to lo mein, though in fact it's a leaner, cleaner dish. In its most basic construct, ban mian consists of freshly cooked noodles that have seasoned, sizzling hot oil poured over them. The hot oil is invariably infused with spring onions, as well as other condiments according to specific recipes. In the case of Gourmet Noodle House, the condiments also include dried tiny shrimps and bits of "wood ear" mushrooms.
dianping.com (China's Yelp, as it were).
I've rarely ordered ban mian in a restaurant, and my expectations may have been conditioned by the way my wife has prepared it, but I found Gourmet Noodle House's version a little on the dry side. It took quite a bit of extra stirring to coat all the noodles so they didn't stick together, and there was no pool of liquid left in the bottom of the bowl as I would expect. Yes, it was a little more oil the dish demanded, but what the heck, it's vegetable oil after all. Otherwise, the combination of dried shrimp and scallions was rewarding, and the noodles themselves happily chewy.
If I found my noodles a little short of the mark, my yellowfish spring rolls were a revelation; at first glance these appear a little pricey, at $7.95 for four smallish pieces, but I found them worth every penny. The thin, crackly, nearly greaseless cylinders were each stuffed full with yellowfish filet and bits of shepherd's purse; there was no filler, no rice and beans (or bean sprouts) for these chunjurritos. I'll gladly order these again.
Where slurped: Gourmet Noodle House, 3751 Geary Blvd., San Francisco