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Searching for Northern-style zha jiang mian

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Searching for Northern-style zha jiang mian

Pammeh | Aug 27, 2008 11:13 PM

I'd appreciate it if you kind folks would listen to my very, very picky request. :)

I'm looking for zha2 jiang4 mian4 (bean sauce/pork noodles) in the East Bay, and I'm trying to find a version that lives up to the kind I inhaled in my grandparents' house in China by the bowlful. It must be the traditional Beijing/Shandong style--a salty black bean sauce, not the sweet red version--with good (preferably hand-made) noodles and the requisite cucumber slices.

I began my search at QQ Noodle in Fremont, #3 on their menu for anyone familiar with the place, and I was frankly disappointed. While their hand-pulled noodles were 5-star for texture and taste, the zha jiang sauce itself was...bland. Not unpleasant, but bland. Zha jiang, as I've had it, is an aggressive, in-your-face affair. It's traditional Chinese peasant food, and my favorite version can by no stretch of the imagination be "delicate" or "subtle". It's salty, savory, bold, and the flavors attack your mouth. Less than a cup or so of the intensely black sauce (the flavor coming from strong salted black beans) should suffice to barely coat a huge bowlful of noodles, yet the flavor should still be full and sharp. Ideally, only pork, no seafood, should function as the meat component. Nothing gloopy or soupy, zha jiang should be a condensed explosion of taste.

But I digress into drooling now. :) I know it's always a tall order to demand a restaurant that can meet memories of divine home cooking, but can anyone offer a suggestion? Browsing the boards, the last topic was in 2001 (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/1711...) and I think I might hit up China Village to taste test their version.

Thanks in advance!

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