NOODLE LOVERS! LISTEN UP! YOU MAY THINK YOU’VE TRIED ALL THE TYPES OF CHINESE NOODLES. KNIFE-PEELED AND HAND-PULLED ARE NOW COMMONLY ON THE NOODLE ROTATION.
But, have you had Yunnan rice noodles? This is a totally different breed than Vietnamese pho, Cantonese wide “he fen” rice noodles at dim sum, or even vermicelli. It generally has a spaghetti-like thickness and roundness, but is much lighter (because it’s rice) and is very chewy and slippery. It has to be made fresh so its not super commonly found. I’ve always loved going to Yunnan restaurants growing up in China but never saw one in Manhattan (upon further research now, it seems that there are a few out there but not well known). Now there is one right in EV! Me, K.C., and H.K. checked it out recently.
Yuan is a new-ish restaurant in East Village that took over Biang!’s old spot. It specializes in these Yunnan rice noodles and dim sum. The rice noodles come either “dry” (no soup) or with soup. The first photo on top is the “dry” version (specifically the Classic Dry Guilin Mifen), while this one here is a spicy one with soup (the Hot and Sour Beef Mifen Soup). Both are super fantastic. I only prefer the Classic Dry one because it is closer to what I’ve had at home. The flavors are more subtle and fragrant. What I love about these rice noodles is that they usually are paired with peanuts, some kind of pickle (the winner), meat, etc. The combination of flavors and textures is something you don’t usually get from other noodles. It’s light and refreshing, yet immensely satisfying.
This is their take on the DanDan Noodles – definitely leave the DanDan noodles to the Sichuan restaurants… this was not as good as the first two pictured. DanDan noodles are supposed to be dry, with wheat noodles, and with soy + sesame paste. Maybe I’m a hater because my family is from Sichuan :P But also, this was a “special” that day so maybe they are just testing it out… if so, fellow Yuan-ers, here’s your feedback!
One of my favorite Chinese cold dishes to get actually is the wood ear mushroom salad. They call it “Cloud Ear Fungus” here – not sure which is better sounding but just trust me that it’s tasty. It’s slightly crunchy, pairs deliciously with hot oil and garlic…
We were intrigued by Spicy Wontons in Truffle Oil (chicken and shiitake wonton, spicy truffle oil and scallion. When it arrived at the table, it smelled effing amazing. Hot oil, truffle oil, scallions… you can’t really go wrong. Sadly the filling was not flavorful enough. Legitimately think they forgot to add salt.
We ended the night with the lemon egg tart, which came warm and topped with a deliciously light whipped cream. Super super super delicious. The crust was flaky. Center was creamy and slightly sweet and lemony. My kind of dessert.
So… I will be back for sure. I want to try more of the dim sum (the honey glazed bbq buns sound amazing) and more of the Yunnan rice noodles. I can see this place becoming a comfort food spot. It’s no frills, in a good location, affordable (rice noodles about $12), and reminds me of home.