Every bowl of noodles served at Mesa's Nan Zhou Noodle House passes through the hands of chef Li Bao Jiang. The restaurant, which opened about a year ago at 111 South Dobson Road, specializes in Lanzhou-style lamian, or noodles made by stretching and pulling dough by hand.
According to the restaurant's menu, this style of hand-pulled noodle dates back to the Ching Dynasty, when the noodles were served exclusively to "officials, gentry, and wealthy merchants" in northwest China. The dish was created in Lanzhou (Nan Zhou), the capital of the Gansu province, which once was called the "Golden City."
Since each batch of noodles is made to order, Jiang makes dozens of bowls of noodles each day. The process involves folding and stretching dough until a single, thick tube transforms into a dozen or so thin strands. Jiang learned the skill while working at a large hotel in the Philippines, where he worked after leaving China. He says it took him about six months to perfect the art of noodle making.
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The entire process takes Jiang only a few minutes of deft hand and arm motions before the noodles go into a pot of boiling water and a wok for frying.