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Yunnan noodles

Thi N. | Aug 23, 2004 10:54 AM

At the place that used to be called Hua's Garden - on Garfield about a block north of Garvey, just north of Luk Yue and the Hong Kong Supermarket, west side of the street, north side of an unlighted intersection -

I don't remember the name, it's got a new game, starts with an A or B or something. Aguila. Buil. Aguilar. Something more Chinese. Can't remember. Name's changed, but the layout looks identical, and I think the waitstaff's the same.

Anyway, we slide in about 9:30, they're about the close. I remember three years ago having excellent crossing-the-bridge noodles here - perfectly clear chicken soup with tiny, beautiful vegetables and clear noodles and good chicken. I'm informed this time that the kitchen is mostly closed and we can only order from the first page of soup and noodles. I spot no crossing-the-bridge noodles on the first page, so we get Yunnan noodles and spicy guilan chicken soup.

Yunnan noodles. I think this is what canned dog food would taste like to me if I were a dog. Very brown, very funky, almost nauseatingly meaty, with a dense, dog-food-like aroma - but also awesome. Feels kind of carelessly thrown together, bits of almost al-pastor-like kinda-stanky-but-good chewy roasted pork, and some kind of nutty, oily sauce. It tastes very street. I imagine that if I were to go into some back alley in a Yunnan city at 3 AM and sit on a discarded vegetable box watching a back-alley cockfight and ordered a dish of noodles from the nearest vendor, it would taste sort of like this. Satisfying in an intense, animal way. Noodles are soft.

I chowed this down like a madman. Utterly satisfying.

Guilan chicken came in the greasiest pool of chili oil I know - and I sop up the chili oil at most Sichuan joints like a champion. Couldn't take it. Sort of good, but felt careless. Not much love in the preperation. Oil felt unfresh.

Unordered (probably accompanying the Yunnan noodles?) came a big bowl of chicken broth with, er, watercress? Excellent, clean flavor.

Cold starters - seaweed felt a little gloppily oily, and marinated meat didn't have zing. Compared to the beauties at the similar Sichuan cold tables at Oriental Pearl and Chung King, pretty sad.

-thi

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