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Ma Lan - disappointing - what did I miss?

Suvro | Feb 23, 200506:12 PM

After hearing rave reviews for the hand pulled noodles at Ma Lan, we went there last week. Unfortunately, it was closed on Tuesdays, and we ended up eating at the larger and more crowded restaurant next door (it was a very good lunch experience).

Today we went back for Ma Lan. While the place was open, it had practically no customers. One table with an older couple, one table of 4 younger people, and one table with a suited person.

We ordered 2 of the cold dishes - the thinly sliced hot beef, and the marinated tofu and mushrooms. These were good, but also available at Oriental Pearl and Chongking.

I chose the triangular noodles, while my colleague chose the small flat noodles, in their standard beef soup. The soup was flat as flat can be. I detected absolutely little taste. Later I observed that the beef is added after the soup is ladled in the bowl with the noodles. In other restaurants, there is at least good flavor from the tendons. There was a lot of cilantro and one other herb in the soup that made it tolerable for my palate. The noodles were good, but nothing outstanding - without any taste from the soup, it was like plain boiled al dente noodles, and oodles of it. The beef in the soup was OK, again nothing that would make me want to go back.

I am left wondering - what have I missed that others see in this place. From the looks of it (and comparing it to the place next doors), this is on its final legs.

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