Lanzhou lamian originates from Lanzhou, Gansu, where an Islamic ethnic minority called the Hui live. Their religious belief means no pork (setting it apart from other Chinese cuisine where that meat is a staple ingredient). The emphasis instead is on beef and mutton. Lamian, meanwhile, means hand-pulled noodle. So Lanzhou-style lamian usually implies a bowl of freshly made noodles served with beef or mutton in a clear beef broth (most restaurants will also add radish, a spoonful of chilli oil, and a handful of coriander).
Why is it famous?
To make Lanzhou-styled noodles, the dough is worked very aggressively. Usually a young man is hired for the job, to pull the dough in straight, rapid tugs with little twisting. Some of the noodle-pullers slam the dough against their prep boards to ensure even stretching and a uniform thickness. Flour is added to dust down the strands and prevent them from sticking.
Where to eat it?
If you are in Lanzhou, be sure to check out the city’s most popular lamian joint, Mazilu. The restaurant is famous for its beef noodles (in fact, it’s also the only item on the menu that can be ordered there). Address: 86, Dazhong Alley, Lanzhou, Gansu (Tel: +86 931 845 0505). The restaurant is open from early: noodles are also eaten for breakfast.
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