JTYH: DAO XIAO MIAN IN ROSEMEAD
The traffic in Los Angeles is legendarily dreadful.
It doesn’t really affect me much. During the day, I have plenty of articles to write, which means I rarely stray too far from my couch, unless I have a meeting. In the evening, when Sybil returns home, a long day’s travail means she has neither the energy nor the inclination to drive much further than two blocks without kicking up a stink.
On Friday, however, the stars fashioned themselves in that all too rare configuration, which meant that I had finished all my writing for the week and Sybil had a day off work. After a wonderfully leisurely day of doing nothing in particular, we set off to meet our friends, Angel and Sebastian, across to the other side of the city in Rosemead, an area known for its large Asian population and high density of Asian restaurants.
Angel had been raised in this neighbourhood and suggested we meet at one of her favourite Chinese restaurants, JTYH, which specialised in Dao, Xiao Mian. These are the “knife shaved” noodles, which are a speciality of Northern China. As the name suggests, the noodles are shaved from a large block of dough straight into a pot of boiling water and are then served dry with a paste of sesame seeds, in soups or cooked in a wok with meat and seafood.
Despite the hideous traffic, we arrived a little early and soon found the unassuming little restaurant tucked next to a Mexican market and a Taco Bell. As we took in the menu and sipped on tea, we ordered a plate of cold pigs ear, sliced into thin strips and served with hot pepper oil to nibble on. They were not really to Syb’s tastes, which left me to pick away at the plate until our dinner companions walked through the door.
Once they arrived, I left most of the ordering in Angel’s hands. First to arrive was a large plate of “Three ingredient” Jiaozi or dumplings. These contained lamb, pork and beef and were being hand made in front of us by one of the staff. They had been fried until the bases were crisp and golden ready to be eaten after a quick bath in a vinegar dipping sauce.
Next up a pleasingly dense and savoury pancake studded with spring onions followed by a plate of cricket ball sized Goubuli baozi. These were the hit of the night. The dough casing had been steamed and then fried. They pulled apart easily with chopsticks to release a little cloud of savoury steam, which cleared to reveal the porky contents. Again, the dumplings benefited from a good slug of vinegar, to cut through the fat content of the filling and could easily have been an ample supper on their own.
Angel doesn’t roll like that, however and, just as we were about to tuck into our second dumpling each, the noodles which were the main reason for our visit, arrived. The first preparation came served in a broth flavoured with a little star anise and chunks of braised beef. The noodles were short and chewy, which is, Angel informed me, exactly how they are supposed to be and the final addition of chopped coriander added a pleasing crunch to each bite. The last dish to be placed in front of us, was more ordinary and although the knife cut noodles again offered a great texture, I soon left them alone and turned back to the beef broth for a second helping.
Portions, as the pictures show were bloody enormous and the bill came to around $45 for the four of us including service. Terrific value when you consider that the leftovers will also provide two of Sybil’s lunches at the beginning of next week.
Quite when the work and traffic gods will deign that a return visit can happen, I don’t know, but JTYH is definitely one to mark down the next time we can both face the drive East.