Nouilles de Lan Zhou is a restaurant that does one thing and one thing perfectly: clear, aromatic beef broth served with hand-pulled noodles, thinly-sliced beef, green onion, white radish and cilantro. The restaurant offers a handful of small appetizers, like cucumbers marinated in spicy peanut sauce, but everyone in the restaurant is there for the same reason: Lan Zhou-style lamian beef soup.

The place is dinner and a show without any pretense: the first thing you see when you walk in is a man expertly twirling and spinning a block of dough into noodles in a few short seconds. Lan Zhou pulled noodles are the emblematic dish of the Lan Zhou region of the Gansu province of northwestern China. There are records of noodles being made this way dating back 500 years, and after tasting them, it’s no shock that it’s a food tradition that has endured.

You can pick the thickness of the noodles in your bowl- from angel-hair fine to udon-thick or flat and an inch wide. The restaurant seats about 30, and it’s absurdly shaped: most of the seating is on an overhang above some escalators that go down to a grocery store. This odd setup just adds to the experience: no one is here for anything but the food.

The price is most certainly right at Nouilles de Lan Zhou: the “small” size- which was impossible to finish, even for a diner with an always-hefty appetite – was only $6.99. The medium is just huge.

Upon being seated, we were presented with a menu, which was basically just a diagram of the noodle sizes available and whether or not we wanted spicy. We wanted spicy. Within three minutes we had our cucumber appetizer, and within five we had our steaming bowls of soup.

The broth is wonderfully beefy and is right on point with seasoning. A little vinegar and extra chili oil, available on every table, were excellent finishing touches. The noodles are perfect: chewy and fresh, you can taste that they’ve been made in the last few minutes and thrown into the broth. The thinly-sliced beef falls apart in your mouth like brisket with little ribbons of flavourful fat running through it. The greenery adds brightness and crunch, and the chili oil packs a smoky punch.

Bottom line, fresh noodles kick packaged noodles’ ass, and with such divine accompaniments as the broth and the meat, this is no ordinary bowl of soup.

1006 Rue Saint-Laurent
Accepts cash & debit
Open 7 days a week, 9am-9pm Sunday through Monday, 9am-10pm Friday & Saturday.