The new storefront on Eighth Avenue displays cheerful bunting outside and a lump of dough as big as a Labrador inside.
Lanzhou-style noodle joints continue to proliferate in Chinatowns across the city, many making both the thin, round hand-pulled noodles and the wider, flat peel (or knife-cut) noodles. 8th Avenue Noodles is the newest one in Sunset Park, having opened 15 days ago.
There are the the standard noodles and noodle soups with add-ons like beef, oxtail, tendon, fish balls, squid, lamb stomach, and intestine. Interestingly, there’s also “osmanthus intestinal,” probably a soup including osmanthus, an edible flower sometimes made into tea.
But the menu is not the most reliable English narrator: There’s also a listing for “thermometer soup” and “potato soup pills.” The latter is likely those large, smooth Fujianese-style potato-starch balls that are often filled with a bit of pork. The intriguing dishes go on: sauerkraut noodles, “halogen-large intestine,” hankers noodle soup, and tube soup.
The young couple who operate the spotless restaurant are friendly and efficient; three giant vats of stock simmer on a gas range behind the counter. On a stainless steel table, that gigantic mound of cream-colored dough sits quietly, until the guy cuts off a hunk and starts making noodles.
Bang! You might jump out of your skin if you’re not ready. Behind the counter, the dough is being whipped into shape–repeatedly slapped on the countertop to break down the gluten and then stretched and twisted back and forth like taffy, finally creating a cat’s cradle of noodles. It looks like calisthenics.
If you order peel noodles–called planed noodles on the menu–the noise is gentler. Sh-sh-sh, as the fellow shaves strips off a loaf of dough. The newly born noodles sail straight from his cleaver into a pot of broth.
This morning around 10:30, several of the meats, like tendon, short rib, and pork belly were not yet ready. Beef was available though, in a bowl full of the freshly made peel noodles ($5). The beef broth tastes deep and rounded, and the noodles are wonderfully stretchy, slippery, and irregularly formed. It’s a very generous bowl, heavy on the noodles and beef, along with sweet bits of scallion and spinach.
Next time, we’ll find out exactly what thermometer soup is.
8th Avenue Noodles
5017 Eighth Avenue, Brooklyn