I’m back from my two weeks and a bit work and holiday trip to Beijing (those last three posts were scheduled before I left in anticipation of being behind the Great Firewall of China). Those two weeks felt like two months as each day, I narrowly escaped death each time I crossed the street; no one warned me about the terrible traffic in that city – seriously, green does not always mean go for the pedestrian and yet red always seems to mean go for any driver. And the city is humongous. Walking anywhere is near impossible and yet the alternative, taking a taxi, can be ridiculously stressful too as you watch in fear as your driver cuts in front of yet another speeding lorry. Luckily, the sites were quite something to behold (photos are going up on Flickr daily) and the food more than made up for it all. We ate extremely well – at high end restaurants or at little random restaurants or even out on the street, everything was good and sometimes it was utterly fantastic.
We did plan a few meals but left a lot of it up to chance too – this turned out to be a good plan as it was often difficult to get from one tourist site to the restaurant on the other side of town (traffic was always bad at meal times and sometimes taxis were impossible to get). This meal was a planned one – I had read about Noodle Loft on both Appetite for China and World Foodie Guide and was keen to have some homemade noodles here to build up our energies again after a long day at the Great Wall (at Huanghua).
Getting here was half the fun (not!). We took the metro to Dawanglu and had to push our way out rather violently to get out of the train; there was some fear that Blai couldn’t get out but we both managed in the end! The twenty minute or so walk down to the restaurant wasn’t entirely pleasant as it involved crossing a number of major roads and essentially we were walking down the side of a minor motorway. We made it there eventually though and the food turned out to be worth the walk!
The two storey restaurant had an open kitchen downstairs and a very pleasant dining room upstairs and we were sat in the latter. The room filled with affluent young couples and businessmen – all of them enjoying the various noodle dishes and non noodle dishes available. Like a lot of the higher end restaurants we ate at, Noodle Loft has a picture menu with names in both Chinese and English. For the two of us, we ordered two noodle dishes and a vegetable side.
The first noodle dish was a simple stir fried handmade noodles with pork and cabbage. Rather unexpectedly, there was a hint of vinegar running through this dish which was surprising but delicious. And gosh I love the chewiness of handmade noodles.
Our second noodle dish was one I’ve wanted to try ever since I saw a photo of it on Flickr ages ago – kaolaolao – Shanxi noodles made with oat flour steamed in a honeycomb pattern. We had ours topped with a pork and vinegar sauce but you can also order them plain and they’ll come with dipping sauces instead. These had a lovely nutty flavour that paired well with the heavier sauce. The vinegar was much milder in this dish.
Our vegetable side was a delectable stir fried Chinese kale (just the stems) with fresh walnuts. This was just delicious with the vegetables retaining their crunch while the nuts were green and tender.
For London standards, the meal was inexpensive – about 100RMB (or £10) with a couple drinks – but it’s certainly not cheap by Beijing standards. It’s a nice place to try different kinds of noodles though; apart from the ones we tried, they also have knife shaven noodles, one chopstick noodles, cat ear noodles, etc. Any idea why they brought a little plant to the table when we paid? Is this so they know we paid?
I’ve not got their official website below but instead the link is to a Beijing directory listing where you can find the name and address in Chinese.
20 Xidawang Lu