We discovered noodle shops in Shanghai as we walked through the lilongs of Xintiandi. At lunch time they filled up suddenly. The first noodle shop we ate in was crowded with young and well-dressed working people. The food was slow to arrive, belying the name of fast food places, but very good. There were all kinds of delicious little add ons. The one I tried is the famous Chinese tea egg.
After arriving in Beijing I tried a quick lunch in a noodle shop a few times. This was less pleasant. One of these places was run by a Muslim family from Xinjiang, and they made “hand-pulled noodles” right in the shop. This was fascinating to watch. Dough was fulled into flat sheets by hand, folded over repeatedly, and divided each time into thinner and thinner pieces, until you had thin noodles. This was quickly boiled, slapped into a bowl, filled with a simmering broth, pieces of lamb added in, and a hot sauce slapped on top (see photo above). Interesting to watch, but not great to eat.
We tried a few other noodle places, and were equally disappointed. I wonder whether the difference is between Shanghai and Beijing, or between a place frequented by salaried young people versus one which caters to students. Whatever it is, I gave up on noodle shops in Haidian very quickly.