For any noodle lover, finding fresh hand-pulled and knife-cut noodles is a true treasure. When the sign for Lan Zhou Ramen, a new Chinese restaurant on Buford Highway, went up, many assumed it must have been related to New Lan Zhou Noodle in Chinatown Food Court, but the two are completely separate concepts (Lan Zhou Ramen’s owners recently relocated here from New York). The names instead simply reference the same place—Lan Zhou is widely considered the noodle capital of China, best known for its beef noodle soup.
Located in Pine Tree Plaza, the shopping center that is also home to Chicago Supermarket and Chef Liu, Lan Zhou Ramen is a cheerful spot that is so proud of its noodles, you can watch the chef in action, masterfully pulling and stringing the strips of dough, through a window in the dining room. The restaurant serves three types of noodles: the hand-pulled noodles you see the chef preparing above, chewy knife-cut noodles that resemble Italian pappardelle, and rice noodles.
There are 38 noodle dishes on the menu, ranging from steamed to dry-fried to fried with sauce. If you like your noodles chewy, the wide, flat knife-cut variety are your best bet. Personally, I like the springiness and slurpability of the hand-pulled noodles swimming in a bowl of clear beef broth or stir-fried with fluffy eggs and vegetables such as onions and bok choy.
Beyond noodles, the expansive menu features cold dishes such as spicy shredded pig ears, “snacks” such as stewed pork belly and Chinese-style spicy chicken, and other entrees such as oxtail soup and pork chop with rice. Always on the hunt for a good dumpling, I was surprised how good the xiao long bao (Shanghai soup buns) were. The skins were so supple and silky, there was no doubt they were handmade, and the pork meatball and soup filling was fragrant and flavorful. For a doughier dumpling, the Shanghai pan-fried pork buns have a crisp crust on the bottom that crackles and gives way to chewy dough filled with seasoned ground pork and green onions. Service is friendly, and the restaurant also makes a mean cup of quality Jasmine tea—none of that astringent black stuff devoid of flavor here. There is so much to explore for dumpling and noodle lovers alike. I’ll be back again and again. 5231 Buford Highway Northeast, Doraville, 678-691-2175