Hand-Pulled Noodles @ Malan Noodle

// First Visited: 2008
Last Visited: 2011 //

 

Triangle Noodles with Fried Tomatoes and Eggs

 

I’ve always thought that Taiwanese and Italian people were kindred spirits.  Both consider noodle texture to be so important that they came up with a word to express it — the Italians have “al dente” (“to the tooth”) and the Taiwanese have “QQ” (roughly translated as “very chewy”).  My dad’s face lights up whenever I tell him that I’ve discovered a “QQ” new noodle dish, because he’ll know to expect a flavorful noodle that provides more of a workout for his jaw than the mushy pasta served at chain restaurants.

Malan Noodle, a chain of hand-pulled and knife-cut noodle stores exported from China, is an unprepossessing shop where QQ rules the roost.  My family has been going there for almost five years now — it’s a natural stop after visiting the nearby Buddhist temple to pay respect to my ancestors.  I know that Pavlov’s studies of classical conditioning are well in effect when I think about temple, and I immediately get hungry and start craving chewy, hand-pulled noodles.

 

Pickled Cabbage

You can choose from a variety of cold small plates to tide you over as you wait for your noodle dish to come out.  We usually get Chinese pickled cabbage (barely fermented), fried wheat gluten with black mushrooms (oily and slightly sweet, with a texture similar to a dense, chewy tofu).

 

Fried Tofu (really, Mian Jin or Wheat Gluten) with Black Mushroom

 

We usually move on from there to cold, slippery noodles coated in a light peanut sauce and freshly-fried flaky scallion pancakes.

 

Cold Malan Noodles in Peanut Sauce

 

Scallion Pancakes

 

As for the noodle dishes…there are seven (!) noodle sizes to choose from: Small Round, Medium Round, Large Round, Small Flat, Medium Flat, Large Flat (also known as “belt noodles”), and Triangle Noodles.  The thickest, and therefore most QQ, are the Large Flat noodles and the Triangle Noodles — which are what we almost always order.

My brother loves the beef noodle soup with triangle noodles — the clear broth, while not as complicated in flavor as Vietnamese pho, is savory and satisfying in its own right.  My parents and sister favor the Triangle Noodles with Fried Tomato and Eggs.  I love both of those dishes, but the one that really captured my heart from the beginning…is the Chicken with Chef’s Spicy Sauce, made with large flat noodles.

 

Triangle Noodles with Fried Tomatoes and Eggs (all mixed up)

 

Chicken with Chief's Spicy Sauce (with Large Flat Noodles)

Let me explain.  They basically hack up a chicken and stew it, bones and all, in a mess of chili and bell peppers, onion chunks, and garlic cloves.  The best parts of the dish are the noodles and the garlic.  When you pop a garlic clove in your mouth, you get soft, creamy texture, savory chicken flavor, and a lasting slow burn from the chili.  The noodles, densely chewy, with uneven thickness that serves as a dead giveaway for their handmade origins, would give any self-respecting Italian trattoria a run for its money.

 

Noodle with Braised Beef, with Triangle Noodles

 

Malan Noodle is a fantastic reason to head out to the SGV, even if you find yourself trapped freeways away in idyllic Santa Monica.

Malan Noodle
2020 S. Hacienda Blvd., #B
Hacienda Heights, CA 91745
(626) 369-5602

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