I’ve been on a Chinese-food kick lately. And the fact that I, a Nut-Allergic, can even say that is pretty wild, given how nut allergy–unfriendly a lot of Chinese restaurants tends to be. But I, ever-obsessive, have found another (incidentally) nut-free Chinese restaurant. Don’t bother holding your applause. I’ll just wait.
[While they’re clapping: On the off chance you’re a Nut-Unallergic following along because you just can’t resist the downright-magnetic appeal of my incredible writing—that’s 100% joke, everyone—please just know that finding a Chinese restaurant that doesn’t have a bunch of cashews bumping around the back is near-impossible. And with the way wok cooking works (soaping a wok is a big no-no, for example), those who aren’t cool with potentially ingesting trace amounts of nuts kinda-sorta need Chinese restaurants to be nut-free. Now you know.]
Okay. That’s enough. (Enough clapping, or enough rambling? I’ll never tell!) Point is, I’ve found a new Chinese restaurant that specializes in—guess what?—noodles. Hand-pulled noodles…and tasty ones, at that. (Ugh.)
As far as I know, Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles (henceforth THPN) doesn’t have an online contact form or an email address, so I settled for giving them a call. Three calls, actually, over the course of a few weeks, because restaurants—especially Chinese restaurants—that seem too good to be nut-free give me trust issues and agita. Fortunately, all three calls yielded the same basic answer, and fortunately, the gist of that answer was that there are no tree nuts or peanuts in this restaurant’s kitchen. I should say, though, they they have some dishes—Kung Pao broccoli, for example—that I’d expect to contain peanuts. Maybe those dishes are peanut-free; I’m not sure. I’m only allergic to tree nuts, so I didn’t do much digging on the whole peanut issue.
Before actually showing up, I had no idea THPN’s menu would be so big. I’d expected noodles, noodles, and maybe a dumpling or two, but they have plenty of other classic takeout fare, too (fried rice, General Tso’s, beef with broccoli, Hunan shrimp—the works). But when I received my three yeses, I wasn’t all that excited, as I had no idea I was coming into a full-fledged Chinese restaurant. (Well, maybe not quite full-fledged. But it’s the fullest-fledged nut-free Chinese restaurant I’ve found to date. For better or worse, I’ve been looking for a place just like this—not Sichuan cuisine or dim sum, but the Chinese-American food we misguided Americans can’t seem to get enough of—mostly to replace the exceedingly average takeout of my childhood.)
Anyway, what originally drew me to this place was its promise of tasty noodles, so I’ll start with those. At THPN, you’ll have the absurd privilege of choosing between eight (!) types of noodle: hand-pulled (which come regular, fat, small-wide, and big-wide), knife-cut, and rice (which come regular, skinny, and sticky). You’ll have to choose between pan-fried and soup-drenched (my phrasing)—and then you’ll have to pick from their seven-trillion meat and vegetable offerings, too.
Personally, I tend to vacillate between the fat hand-pulled noodles (they’re the least likely of the hand-pulled noodles to come off as overcooked, I’ve found) and the knife-cut noodles (which are extra thick and so pleasantly chewy). I always, always go pan-fried, and as for meat, I’ll usually choose roast pork. (My instinct is always to spring for duck, but THPN’s, though tasty, is very bony, so it’s more trouble than it’s worth, if you ask me—and their beef has a funny flavor to it, so roast pork it is.)
And that’s basically my favorite THPN dish: pan-fried (fat) hand-pulled noodles with roast pork, pictured all over this post. There’s plenty of pork, and almost all of it’s delicious. (The occasional piece will be over-cooked or over-seasoned, but that’s life.) The vegetables are hit or miss, but I’ve never heard of anyone ordering a fried noodle dish for the vegetables, so I’m happy to let these slide. (And actually, I usually specify through Seamless that I’d like my noodles sans most greenery, and fortunately, the folks at THPN listen. Wish me luck with the whole scurvy thing, though.) Plus, this dish is greasy as hell, too. In all, it’s precisely what I’ve been dreaming of.
Like I said, I’m also a pretty big fan of the knife-cut noodles. They don’t look all that thick, but they have the chewiness of a spaetzle- or a gnocchi-type pasta, which sort of chewiness happens to be precisely my fetish, noodle-wise. But these, relative to the hand-cut noodles, seem to come in a slightly smaller portion, and with a whole bunch of extra (i.e compensatory) vegetables, too—so I don’t order them all that often. Here is what’s for some reason the only picture I have of them:
Swoon. (That’s the aforementioned bony-ass duck, by the way. I have no idea how to eat this stuff without getting my fingers involved.)
Enough about the noodles, though. (For now, at least. But good luck getting me to shut up about these noodles for long.) Because another one of the most exciting things about this place is its offer of a lot of the other Chinese takeout I’ve been missing. Take, for example, chicken with broccoli. I have no idea why, but as a kid, I could never order Chinese without tacking on some chicken with broccoli. I was a little obsessed, I guess. (So obsessed, in fact, that my mom took to making me takeout-style chicken with broccoli for dinner. And it was all right—but as anyone who’s ever tried to home-cook takeout knows, it just wasn’t the same.)
Anyway, I’d pretty much forgotten about just how inexplicably much I liked this stupid-ass dish—that is, until I saw it on THPN’s menu. I had to get it. Just to see. And now, I’m once again entirely unable to order Chinese without throwing some chicken with broccoli into my cart, too.
Honestly, there’s not much to say about this stuff. It’s takeout chicken with broccoli, and it tastes like takeout chicken with broccoli. The broccoli’s average; the chicken’s average. Smothered in sauce, both are unfairly tasty. It’s a surprisingly flavorful dish, and it does well over rice (though THPN’s rice can be a little mushy). That’s probably way more than I needed to say. Here’s a picture:
What else is there to say? The fried rice is pretty good—it’s on the bland side, but that’s sort of just how this kind of fried rice is, so I’m not really complaining—and the noodle soups are fine, too, though I don’t tend to have as much fun with them as much as I do with the pan-fried noodles. But (for me, at least) finding out stuff like that is, like, 75% of the fun at eating at a place like THPN. So go. See for yourself. Make your own discoveries.
Find Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles at 1 Doyers Street, between Bowery and Pell. Or check out their uptown location (to which I’ve never been): Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles 2, located at 648 9th Avenue, between 45th and 46th.
[By the way, this is my 100th post, y’all. Thanks—really, thank you—for following along.]