For around four thousand years, noodles have been used as a cheap form of fuel for humans in need of energy. The boiled dough has been interpreted across the world, from Asian rice noodles to Japanese udon to German spätzle. The Chinese, however, were responsible for spreading the now ubiquitous dish to other cultures. The country has created a multitude of varieties, not least of which are a number of hand-pulled noodle iterations. Sheng Wang (7 Eldridge Street; 212-925-0805) in Chinatown offers some of the best in the city, with one of the lowest price tags.
Housed in a nondescript storefront a few steps down off the street, the shop specializes in the handmade fujian dish, pulled in a way that mimics kids’ string games. The space is nothing flashy, just Formica-covered tables, poster-board menus on the walls, solitary locals slurping noodles, and Chinese soap operas blaring on the TV, but the fare is well worth the uninspiring digs.
Starting at just $4.50 for the vegetable, heaping portions of dough are served on Styrofoam plates (or bowls). Several options exist, including soup and fried- and peeled-noodle dishes, with accoutrements ranging from simple beef ($7), seafood ($7), and roast duck ($7) to more adventurous proteins, such as pig intestine ($7) or goat and beef stomach ($7 each).
Everything is good, but we suggest the fried noodles. The thick knife-cut strands are cooked al dente and deeply flavored with a spicy chile oil. Another peppery sauce and pickled mustard greens sit on every tabletop. You don’t necessarily need to add more seasoning, but the condiments here are fairly addictive.
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