Thursday, February 09, 2006

Baby Got Back: Heavy Noodling, Monterey Park

Noodles, like people, have their own diverse community of different makeups and textures. The pasta or noodle aisle at any market is a huge melting pot, really: there are egg ones, rice ones, wheat ones, short ones, long ones, hollow ones, twisty ones, skinny ones, fat ones. Fat ones. Did I say fat ones? Because you see, just like some people have a "thing" for certain kinds of people in our own huge melting pot, I've got a "thing" for fat noodles. Fettuccine, pappardelle, wide rice noodles...the more meat on 'em, the better. In fact, how did the old saying go regarding this whole fat fetish thing?

To the beanpole dames in the magazines, you ain't it Miss Thang.

You know the song. And that's exactly why I took me and my fat fetish over to Monterey Park for lunch today to get some Heavy Noodling.

On a stretch of Garvey Avenue lined with Chinese video stores, restaurants and herbalists is this modest space of a restaurant that will mostlikely remind you of your grandma's living room. Though the plush-carpeted dining room was about two-thirds full when I walked in, there was a surprising sense of tranquility on the air...I think everyone was just busy burying their heads in and slurping away at their bowls of noodles.

Like myself, the people that come to Heavy Noodling also have a fat fetish because there is pretty much one thing that they seek, and that is their knife cut noodle. I wouldn't say that these noodles, which originated from the Northern Chinese province of
Shanxi, have "little in the middle but pack much back"; instead, I'd say that they pack much back in the middle. In non-mixalot terms, because of the way they're cut by shaving off ribbons from a ball of dough, these wide noodles are kind of lumpy in the middle and tapered on the edges creating an interesting, uneven texture.


Heavy Noodling allows you to indulge in your fat fetish in two ways, basically--stir fried or in soup. Get it stir fried and you can choose ingredients like lamb, seafood or moo shu to have your knife cut noodles cooked with. Or, do like I did and indulge your fat fetish in soup. Without even tasting my beef stew and tendon noodles, I knew I was in for a hearty treat. As my chopsticks carefully picked up the first knife cut noodle, I was anxious to sink my teeth into the charmingly clumsy-looking ribbon. Its texture was perfect--its tapered edges gave it kind of a wavy feeling on my tongue and the plump center was cooked to the perfect al dente firmness. The beef broth was slightly anise scented and contained pieces of tender stewed beef and wonderfully gelatinous tendon. Spinach and bits of pickled cabbage lent even more interest to this already interesting dish.

The restaurant also serves a few soups and sauteed dishes as well as small plates and cold dishes. The saran wrapped cold dishes like spiced boiled peanuts, sliced pig ear and spicy pickled cucumber are kept in a glass case atop the counter. I ordered the crispy flour cake--one of the items off of the "home made dim sums" part of the menu to try, and was pleased by this plump version of the more mainstream
scallion pancake. Its crispy outer layer gave way to a chewy interior flecked with scallions, its flavor a nice balance of scallion, oil and salt. Again, fat is good. Heavy noodling also serves a small plate called mu shu sautee cat ear which isn't what you think it is, and which freaked my coworker out until I told her that "cat ear" was really a round, indented noodle that only resembled feline hearing organs.

Only if she's 5'3...

And in light of my recent determination to find more good eats around the new office, I gotta say this LA face with the Oakland booty saved the day. This baby packs much back.

Heavy Noodling
153 E. Garvey Ave.
Monterey Park, CA
(626) 307-9533


Kirk said...

Hi Pam - The texture of good knife cut noodles is great isn't it? Good to see you exploring and posting about Monterey Park/San Gabriel....

Jess Winfield said...

I've been driving by Heavy Noodling and other noodle houses on my way to Islamic Chinese, Lu Gi and other San Gabriel places for years, wondering which one to try first. The thick knife cut description answers my question. I'm there. I too have a thing for thick noodles. My anaconda don't want none if it ain't at least chow fun!

eatdrinknbmerry said...

Pam, great post. would you go back again? lemme know when you try Yunnan Garden on Garfield (2 blocks north of Garvey). I love that place. Get the "Cross the Bridge" soup noodle special. Mmmmm...

Anonymous said...

noodles are so my weakness. especially more "back" the better. no angelhair wimpy pasta for me dahling.

rick james said...

i bet most gringos would hesitate on the cat ear, i know i would.... when i read i chinese menu i take things pretty straightforward, they don't mess around (cept maybe bird's nest..) if the menu says quail brains i'm gonna take their word for it.... lol

Daily Gluttony said...


first the sf valley, now the sg valley! it's so much fun!


LOL! LOVE that line!


i would totally go back...have you been? yunnan garden is one of the next on my list.


red beans and rice didn't miss this one!


next time you come by, we'll cook horse ass and see if you believe it. LOL!