Shanghai Street Food #4 Langzhou Lāmiàn 拉面

This is Number 4 in the Shanghai Street Food series. I'm working my way through all of Shanghai's street foods, one by one. Enjoy a taste of all of them!

Number 1   Roast Sweet Potatoes
Number 2   Snack-on-a-stick 
Number 3   Liangpi - a spicy cold noodle dish
Number 4   Langzhou Lamian - hand-pulled noodles
Number 5   Cong You Bing - fried shallot pancakes
Number 6   Baozi - steamed buns, Shanghai style
Number 7   Jian Bing - the famous egg pancake
Number 8   Dan Gao - street cakes
Number 9   Shao mai - sticky rice treats
Number 10  Summer on a Stick - fresh fruits

Number 11  You Tiao - deep-fried breadsticks
Number 12  Dan Juan - egg rolls
Number 13  Shao Kao - street barbecue
Number 14  Bao Mi Hua - exploding rice flowers
Number 15  Chou Doufu - stinky tofu
Number 16  Bing Tang Shan Zha - crystal sugar hawthorns
Number 17  Mutton Polo
Number 18  Yumi Bang - puffed corn sticks
Number 19  Mian Hua Tang - cotton candy
Number 20  You Dunzi - fried radish cakes

Number 21  Suzhou Shi Yue Bing - homestyle mooncakes 
Number 22  Gui Hua Lian'ou - honeyed lotus root stuffed with sticky rice
Number 23  Cong You Ban Mian - scallion oil noodles
Number 24  Guotie - potsticker dumplings
Number 25  Nuomi Cai Tou - fried clover pancakes
Number 26  Da Bing, Shao Bing - sesame breakfast pastries
Number 27  Ci Fan - sticky rice breakfast balls
Number 28  Gui Hua Gao - steamed osmanthus cake
Number 29  Zongzi - bamboo leaf wrapped sticky rice
Number 30  Shengjianbao - pan-fried dumplings

Number 31  Mala Tang - DIY spicy soup

All over Shanghai are dozens of hole-in-the-wall restaurants serving Langzhou hand-pulled noodles. These are some of the best cheap eats in Shanghai, and hugely popular. Lā means 'to pull' and miàn means 'noodle'. When you see them being made you'll understand why. The restaurants are run by ethnic Chinese Hui muslims, identifiable from afar by their crisp white cotton caps.

My favourite Langzhou lamian restaurant is on Fangbang Lu in the Old City, nearby Luxiangyuan Lu.  For 12 yuan ($2) you can watch as your noodles are made to order before your eyes. Firstly, the noodle maker kneads and stretches the dough, then rolls it into a solid length. Now he pulls it to a full span of his arms, twists it together and pulls again, over and over. As the noodles get thinner and more numerous he slaps them hard on his steel workbench to help separate them. Once finished, he slides open the window above his workbench and literally tosses them out into a bubbling pot of aromatic broth in which they will be cooked. 

These are bowls of niu rou lamian - a tasty beef broth with noodles, slices of fresh beef, coriander, and shallots.

Alternatively, try dāo xīao mìan 刀削麵, hand-cut noodles - these are made from a slab of dough wrapped round a wooden rolling pin, then deftly sliced off into the pot using a device that looks like a potato peeler. The noodles are thicker and shorter and have a fantastic texture. 

These little restaurants exemplify one of the most incredible things about Shanghai - without leaving the city you can try specialist and local foods from all over China, cooked by people from those provinces, and enjoyed by everyone.

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