老地方 Lao Difang (old place), 28 Forsyth, Chinatown, NYC, is a Noodle Shop that is wedged between Saint Barbara Greek Orthodox Church and a Chinese noodle factory.
Some confusion with the name of this establishment found on a blog I like below, as the blog worth checking out states the name as being 快樂手工拉麵 (Kuai le Shougong Lamian) Happy Hand Pulled Noodle. The menu has Lao Di Fang in both Romanized letters and Chinese characters.
Why a sign on the window for Lanzhou when the people are from Fuzhou? The sign you see in this photo actually reads Lan Zhou La Mian in neon simplified Chinese: 兰州拉面. That is a reference to the city of Lanzhou (兰州) in the western Province of Gansu (甘肃) that is famous for its hand pulled noodles, which are tyically made in shops run by the Muslim minority of the city. They are called Huizu (回族), 回 "Hui" being Islam 族 "zu" being the suffix for ethic group. Huijiao (回教) means Muslim or Islam.
It is fact that most of the hand pulled noodle shops in Chinatown NYC are owned by people from Fuzhou, and they use Lanzhou on menus, signs and even in their names to distinguish their noodles as being actually pulled from fresh dough by hand, and in some of these hand pulled shops you can witness that happening to the very noodles you will consume. One will probably not come across a truly Lanzhou Hand Pulled Noodle Shop owned and operated by a Muslim minority, or even a Han Chinese, from Lanzhou City, unless you visit China.
地方上的語言和地方上的菜: Localized language and Localized Cuisine
Before I get to the food and menu, a word of people who own and run Lao Di Fang. I had a dialogue with one of the shop attendants and accordingly found out he was from Fuzhou, or at least Fujian. I do believe the owners are from Fuzhou City (福州 市), in Fujian Provence (福建省), which just over the Taiwan Straits (台湾海峡 Taiwan Haixia ) from Taiwan's northern tip. The feature that differentiates them is the language they speak, which is Fuzhou or Fujianese Language (福州話), in a similar fashion that the Cantonese (粤 Yue) from Guangzhou City of Gungdong Province are distinguihed because of their language, which is Cantonese (粤语 Yueyu or 广东话 Guangdong Hua). And as linguists and anthropologists distinquish these regional people through the language they use amongst there fellow regional natives, one must not forget that cooking also is a distinguishing factor, especially in China, between locations throughout. The Fujianese, the late comers to New York's Chinatown, who established themselves in the regions of East Braodway and Eldridge long after those from Taishan and Guangzhou (Gangdong Province) made roots here, are quite serious about cooking and food, and Lao Di Fan is a fine example of that fact.
I just visited this establishment and ate 羊肚拉麵, which is lamb (or goat) stomach hand pulled noodle. It was very delicious, and a hearty portion. I saw them pull the dough for my dish, and the wait was not long at all.
The shop appears to be a new place, though upon my visit was told they just renovated.
It actually opens at 8 am for those noodle breakfasts 7 days a week, and closes at 10 pm.
The noodles are stretched from dough after you make the order, and you can specify if you want them a bit thin or a bit thick.
The person waiting the tables speaks English, Mandarin 漢語 'hanyu' or 普通話 'putonghua' and Fujianese-福州話 'Fuzhou hua'.
Its the best menu of all the noodle shops I have found in Chinatown, with the avarage price for a hearty portion being about $4.50 to $5.50. Less expensive dishes, but with the same portions and without meat are offered at $3.00 and $3.50. There some of the meat choices that actually hover around $4.00. There are two different hot sauces on the table, one being the ubiquitous Vietnamese Tuong Ot Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce, found in most all the restaurants in Chinatown, too much on the sweet side for hot food lover. There is also 紅油 Hong You, ground red chili in oil, and this works wonderful for those who like it hot.
As for the hand pulled noodle dishes on the menu, which has English beside the Chinese, they have 牛骨魷魚拉麵, or Beef Bone with Squid Noodle in a soup base, meaning cut chunks of round squid in a broth that comes from boiled beef bone. Most of the noodle dishes are soup based, (湯的), but there are a few non-soup options.
They have all the following, all of which are geneously added to your hand pulled noodles and accompanied by vegetables in a soup base:
牛肉片 Beef strips
烤鴨 Roasted duck
牛腩 Beef brisket
牛肚 Tripe (beef)
鸡片 Sliced chicken meat without bone
牛尾 Ox tail
羊肚 Lamb stomach
豬肠 pork intestine
豬肚 pig stomach
豬腳 pig feet
牛腳 beef leg
上排 Spear Rib
There are a couple of fried hand pulled noodle options offered on the menu, one being Stir Fried Beef Strips Hand Pulled Noodle (炒牛肉拉麵), with mixed vegetables.
And if you want your noodles without soup, or not fried, and with a sauce, there is the common (to Chinese noodle shops), Spiced Ground Meat Sauce Noodles -炸醬麵 (Zha Jiang Mian), for only $3.00 (or $3.50). 炸醬 Zha Jiang is the sauce for this which is always plentiful when dished on top of the noodles. It is made of ground meat which is cooked with mild spices, the result of which is a brown looking sauce (served moist but without soup). This is a traditional sauce that is prepared in house. I highly recommend it to those who want to try Chinese noodles in the fashion that many in China eat.
And the selection does not stop there. Lao Di Fang also prepares something called 炒米糕 (chao mi gao), on the menu as 炒年糕 (chao nian gao), which translates to Fried Rice Cake. This is similar to Korean Dukbokki 떡볶이 (1.), which consists of thick very soft pasta like forms made of rice, that are circular, solid and cylinder shaped. In Chinese cooking they may look more like thick or thin sometimes flat wedges, or in a circular form. In Korea, Dukbokki is cooked and served in a spicy sauce with minimal accompaniment beyond scallions, but at Lao Di Fang this 米糕 (mi gao) Rice Cake is stir fried with a good prtion of assorted vegetables, and if remember correctly, bits of meat. Look for 炒年糕 on the menu page called 風味小吃 (FengWei Xiao Chi) or just look for Rice Cake opposite the Hand Pulled Noodle selection.
These cakes made from rice can also be ordred steamed (煮的 zhude) according to the menu, though this may mean boiled as the word 煮'zhu' typically means cooked over the stove in a pot with water, or simply to cook. Steamed food is typcially called 蒸 "zheng" as in 蒸餃 (zhengjiao) steamed dumpling, and prepared in stacks of round bamboo containers with lids. I am guessing that the 'Steamed Rice Cake' option with mixed vegetables and maybe a bit of meat, are cooked to a minimal stew like consistency, but served on a flat plate.
There is much more on the menu at this fine Fujianese owned establishment, such as Fish Falls, very inexpensive boiled dumplings (水餃 'shuijiao'), potato balls, and other small plates for $2 or $3.
Noodle dishes are all hand pulled after you order them, and be sure to specify whether you want them thick or thin. You can see this as the kitchen is open and just off the dining room.
The prices start at $3.00 for Vegetable Hand Pulled Noodle and go up to $6.00 for the House Special (assorted meats) and Seafood Noodle (crab, jumbo shrimp, razor clams, and more).
This blog has a nice review and photo (http://www.gastrochic.com/2011/food/l...), which states that the same place is called 快樂手工拉麵 (Kuai le Shougong Lamian) Happy Hand Pulled Noodle. The menu has Lao Di Fang in both Romanized letters and Chinese characters. It is clean and well managed, and had a recent renovation.
Lao Di Fang is wedged bewteen a Chinatown noodle factory and the Saint Barbara Greek Orthodox Church 27 Forysth, just south of Canal Street, opposite the elevated roadway to the Manhattan Bridge
Lao Di Fang
28 Forsyth St, New York, NY 10002