Dao xiao mian

13 11 2011

Dao xiao mian with beef, Formosa Delights

IF I ever wanted another person’s opinion, I would surely ask.  I definitely know my way in and around a restaurant menu that I seldom ask for help.  So if a wait staff would tell me to try something else after I had already placed an order, I would most likely express my disdain.  Inaudibly.  I would simply give my version of the deer-caught-in-the-headlights look.  Something like that.  And oh, chances are, I wouldn’t be coming back.

At Formosa Delights, where I get my regular Tomato Noodle Soup, the people have probably been wondering how I have been able to totally dismiss the existence of their signature dish.  The board put up in front of their stall and their literal hawking of their specialty had always been totally lost with me as I stood there anticipating only a dose of lycopene in a soup.  Every single time.

A Close Shave...

So when “darling” must’ve finally mustered enough courage to ask, and half-heartedly uttered, “Darling, will you try our dao xiao mian?… But tomato still,” her trepidation at my impending response came across as charming.  The thought bubble above my head couldn’t help but compliment her smooth move.  “Subtle,” the bubble actually spelled.  And she did wait for us to get to know each other before she attempted to change my mind.

So I didn’t just take her up on her offer to replace my favorite u-mian noodles with dao xiao mian.  I took it a step further by totally doing away with anything tomato that night and asked for the works – dao xiao mian with beef.

The huge bowl of dao xiao mian lovingly prepared for me.

 

I heart cilantro!

Dao xiao mian is noodles made by shaving thin strips of dough from a loaf, directly into a huge wok of boiling water.  Quite artisanal and rustic, they’re the perfect example of handmade noodles.  Everytime I would watch a bowl of this dish being made, I felt that I had gotten more than my five bucks’ worth – I would always get dinner and a show.

The bowl that makes it to my table was huge.  The steam rising from the surface carried with it the undeniable essence of star anise, struggling from beneath the initial arrest of the cilantro that had started to get infused into the soup the moment the bright green leaves hit the heat.  The broth was deep brown and in it, banana blossoms, slivers of ginger, and wood ear mushrooms were swimming.  Visually, the concoction seemed so potent that I could surmise it was put together by some medicine man slaving over a ginormous earthenware.  But no, it was put together by the very friendly cook, who, through the course of several visits, has become a real good friend too.

My friend, the cook!

 

The cook is a master showman too!

The beef that came with was fall-off-the-bone tender, which is ironic to say the least, as there weren’t any bones that made it to the dish.  But if they fell off some on the way to my bowl, it was perfectly fine by me.  But the star of this steaming bowl of noodles is the noodles themselves – knife-shaved dao xiao mian.  Perfectly cooked just the way I like it, a touch under, these noodles could make me feel loved, taken care of, and comforted.

And staring at them, I couldn’t help but burst into a Stevie Wonder song.  There’s a ribbon in the skyin this case, in my bowlfor (our) love.

Ribbons in a bowl...

 

Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.

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