>> 1919 Lanzhou Beef Noodle 兰州牛肉面 | Eat the World Los Angeles

Wednesday 2 June 2021

1919 Lanzhou Beef Noodle 兰州牛肉面

🇨🇳 CHINA (Gansu)
🅿️ Large plaza with parking
🥤 No Alcohol
EDITOR'S NOTE: Prices updated as of 12 November 2022.

There is something comforting about hearing the constant "THWACK! THWACK!" of hand-pulled noodles being made while eating. In 2021, it is extra enjoyable to be back in the presence of others and be in the same room where this magic is happening. At Arcadia's 1919 Lanzhou Beef Noodle the noodle maker is behind a plexiglass screen, but can be seen at all times making noodles as orders come in.

The interior of this cute little corner shop is quite a bit more modernized than most of its neighbors in the same shopping plaza. If you order takeout and wait outside, the mannequins from discount clothing stores who have definitely seen better days will stare you down, and maybe convince you to do some shopping.

Lanzhou is well-known for having some of the most tasty noodles in the world, and this stereotype is true within China as well. After a thoroughly scientific study asking three friends what they thought of first when Lanzhou is mentioned, they all said hand-pulled noodles.

The famous beef noodle soup was originally a halal dish created by the Hui people in Gansu, a north-central province of China surrounded by Xinjiang, Sichuan, and Shaanxi, all themselves known for excellent foods. No matter who is making the noodles today in the San Gabriel Valley, the consistent process has not changed much since the earliest days, and even has a long list of rules and trademarks involved to keep them real!

At both locations of 1919 (the other is located not too far in Temple City), they offer a compact menu that focuses on noodles, eaten in soups or served dry if preferred. The house special beef noodle soup ($12.99, above, shown with spicy "upgrade") is probably the most popular order and for good reason. This gets to the heart of what this famous soup is all about, with a wonderfully clean and beefy broth.

No matter how good the beef is here, and these are decent cuts for such an economical price point, the joy from a bowl is almost purely from these springy noodles. While a master might not approve of some noodles being imperfect or different sizes, it is somehow comforting to see directly how hand made each and every one in your bowl is, these noodles come nowhere near any machines.

This whole order was for takeout and eaten within 30 minutes or so of leaving the restaurant. You probably should not wait too long, but this did not seem to take anything away from the noodles, which still seemed like they were holding up 100%.

Another popular option is the braised beef noodle soup ($14.99, above), which substitutes thicker tender cuts but otherwise has the same delicious base and noodles. You can also do the thin cut meat with pickled cabbage or try their dry version.

To round out the table there is a good selection of vegetable and meat side dishes, including the strong trio shown here of sliced potato salad ($3.99), spicy pork ears ($5.99), and spicy beef slices ($5.99). Each adds different textures and spicy notes to your meal.

Lunch time seems to be the busiest at the restaurant, when uncles and other neighborhood elders all converge to eat noodles alone or with friends. There could be a small wait if you come during this time, but things work so efficiently that it should not take long to get your noodles.

Chef's special spicy beef noodle soup

UPDATE 12 NOV 2022: Returned for chef's special spicy beef noodle soup ($14.99, above), choice of noodles within like any soup but covered by a spicy slick of numbing broth and dried chillies. Not much taste besides peppers, a bit of peanuts. Stick to the classics.


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