On these stingingly cold winter days we’ve been experiencing, there’s nothing better than a steaming hot bowl of noodle soup. So if you want the best, you should head over to Lam Zhou in the lower east reaches of Chinatown. There’s not a lot going on in this remote corner beside Lam Zhou, though one could argue that Lam Zhou itself isn’t a whole lot.
It would be pretty easy to walk right past the shop since the signage doesn’t even say Lam Zhou. Instead, look for the yellow awning and the yellow signboard on the ground outside. Inside, you’ll find a minuscule shop that, these days, is often packed to the brim with guests. Everyone has a bowl of hand pulled noodle soup and everyone has a plate of dumplings.
I believe Lam Zhou has the hands down best versions of both of these dishes in Chinatown. I know, I know, there are a few Chinatowns in New York, but for the sake of this post I’m just talking about Manhattan.
Well, I guess the secret is out. What was once my quiet gem of a hole-in-the-wall is now stuffed to the gills with yuppie tourists. Don’t get me wrong, the food is still just as amazing and cheap as ever, but it just feels strange being surround by, well, white people. There’s still plenty of Chinatown locals eating there too, but they are rivaled by just as many food tourists.
For those unfamiliar with hand-pulled noodles, they are exactly what they sound like. While you’re in the shop, you’ll get to experience a sort of performance as the noodle chef spins, stretches, and slaps the noodles against a table, aggressively pulling the mound of dough into long thin strands that get boiled to order. And you’ll know it’s happening to from the loud BANG BANG sound of the noodles smashing against the hard table surface.
The broth here arrives very beefy, but I love to pump up the intensity with a scoop of their smokey, charred chili sauce and chili oil. The beef itself definitely comes from the cheap cuts with bits of gristle, but that’s not what this is dish is really about. It’s about those fresh, long, springy, chewy, lamian noodles and they are extraordinary. Every bite from this bowl is extremely satisfying and comforting especially with a good slurp of the deep, spicy, beefy broth.
But no visit to Lam Zhou would be complete without an order of their incredible dumplings. I always get the fried variety. They come out with such a nice crispy pan seared edge and the other sides remain soft, noodley, and loaded with juicy meat that literally bursts with liquid. I like to add a bit of Chinkiang black vinegar to make them absolutely perfect.
At Lam Zhou, everything is a steal. The broth, the noodles, and the dumplings are all outstanding, comforting, filling, and cheap. If you want the best in Chinatown, look no further.
When it’s cold out, where do you eat to warm up? Let me know in the comments below!
Lam Zhou Handmade Noodle
144 E. Broadway New York, NY 10002