Along with a family friend visiting from California, we headed to the Loop one evening for a noodle nosh. We parked near Corner 17 and I gingerly made my way across the trolley tracks, looking both ways to confirm that the long-awaited trolley was, indeed, nowhere to be seen. Nor were there any coins hidden in the tracks like I used to find when I was a kid.
The first thing I noticed upon approaching the tidy, noodle shop with the bright green awning was its location in mid-block. Not on a corner. So why the name? I later learned that 17 was the age of the owner, when he came here from China.
Once inside, my attention was drawn to the live show taking place behind the glass wall kitchen. Behind the counter a very serious guy in a white cap was beating the daylights out of a mound of dough. The show was visible to surrounding diners many of whom appeared to be international students—good sign.
Making Oodles of Noodles
Within minutes the noodle maker would fold, twist, throw, spin, chop, twirl, and stretch the bands of dough until they became long strings of noodles ready for a nearby pot of boiling water. I was both amused and envious of Dough Man’s skills. (I’m sure he has a far more respectful and appropriate title than that—as well he should.) I also had my eye on the boiling pot, that was the size of a snare drum and perfect for oodles of noodles.
My daughter had been to the noodle shop before, so she ordered several dishes while I was busy filming Dough Man’s ballet-like performance. Within minutes we had a table laden with food. Chopsticks began to fly every which way as we filled our plates with dumplings, cooked cabbage, eggplant, pork belly and beef-vegetable noodles.
Food bloggers overuse the word authentic, but I trot it out here because it truly fits. I was immediately reminded of the array of dishes served when I visited China for two weeks in the 80s. The look, aroma and taste of the various dishes reminded me more of that experience than any I’ve had since. That may be because so much of our Chinese cuisine has been Americanized.
Noodle joints are becoming increasingly popular and this one offers the addition of a large number of other flavorful Chinese dishes along with a fun assortment of bubble teas, and, of course, the side show. The bright green decor gives a fresh, upbeat air to the place and Dough Man and the helpful staff dish up the rest.