So tonight my gf and I ended going to try this place after I saw it on the NYT article, its the only place that I'd never been to or at least heard of although I had seen it before. Its on union right off roosevelt. Its a small place with 4 or 5 tables, sort of a homey feel b/c of the way its painted (kind of pastel colors, def feels more welcoming than most chinese restaurants) and its got a open kitchen.
It is run by one old lady who I'm pretty sure is the owner. Not sure if she speaks english or not, but she was extremely nice and chatted with me for a bit asking how the food was, explaining that she likes the thicker noodles, asking me if i wanted more sauce or cucumbers. Definitely from the north somewhere, her mandarin was very clear and easy to understand. She was doing the cooking, cleaning and serving all herself.
Here's what we got:
- shou gan liang ban mian (hand kneaded cold noodles): this seems to be the house specialty and was the dish that the NYT highlighted. Its thick wheat noodles, which were very al dente and chewy (definitely hand made, i loved the chewiness of the noodles) in a spicy sesame sauce that is made up of ground sesame seeds and hot sesame oil, which I believe the lady makes herself as its on the table as well and then covered in julienned cucumbers. My gf wasn't a huge fan, but I thought it was quite good. It sort of reminded me of the liang pi from the 41-28 mall, but with bolder flavors and slightly heavier. Def the best dish we had there, this is probably the reason you really want to try this place.
- zha zhang mian (fried sauce noodles): wasn't a huge fan of this version, i asked for the thin nooldes (you have a choice of thin or thick noodles), the noodles themselves were fine, but the sauce was a thick sesame meat sauce with julienned cucumbers. The sauce itself was sort of thick and bland I really just didn't like it very much
- jiu cai shui jiao (chive boiled dumplings): these were alright, but you could hit white bear for a much better rendition. Pretty sure she made these herself. They were typical northern style dumplings with thick skins and filled with chives. The filling was a bit bland, which was the main problem with them.
Anyhow, i'd recommend trying the place as its definitely something different and ive never really had anything like the house specialty dish before. I think i come off somewhat less enthusiastic about northern chinese places sometimes (read my Xi'an post) b/c while I like it, its relatively new to me as I didn't eat it growing up in my family with the exception of a few things like dou jiang, shao bing etc and its much different than most southern cuisine, so I think I'm still trying to figure out what I like and what I don't like.