“No, no, no,” the lady at Flushing’s Nutritious Lamb Noodle Soup screamed as I took a photo of the above sign. The namesake dish at the Henanese hand-pulled noodle shop is one of my favorite things to eat in Flushing’s Golden Shopping Mall. I am something of a regular at the ramshackle shop, often seen snapping glamour shots of chewy broad noodles held above steaming bowls of broth. I’ve even brought a video crew there. More recently the shop has become a show-and-tell staple of my Flushing food tours. So it’s not like the owner’s wife doesn’t know me as the crazy lao wai with the camera who’s obsessed about lamb noodle soup.
The shop is one of the only food stalls in the magnificent hawker center that is Golden Mall that still has Chinese-only signage. My order usually goes something like this, “small lamb soup,” accompanied by pointing at items in the cold case. These include chicken feet, potato slaw, crunchy boiled lotus root, or thinly sliced lamb heart dressed in a warm broth. Occasionally I ask for some heart meat in my soup.
I’ve been wondering about the gigantic yellow and red sign for years. Based on her reaction one would think it was the secret recipe for this beguiling soup. So I turned to my friends Colin Goh and Yen Yen Woo the creators of Dim Sum Warriors for some translation assistance. Here’s what they came back with:
Su Xiang Yuan (name of shop)
Good food in Zhengzhou (name of city in Henan) — Nutritious braised noodles
Henan has 3 types of famous traditional foods. Zhengzhou noodles is one of them. It’s unique characteristics are: 1) the noodles are very bouncy 2) the meat’s very tender 3) the broth is very deep and rich 4) very tasty. The broth is made from high quality fresh lamb and lamb bones. Added to that are various herbs, braised perfectly, fully expressing lamb’s taste and nutrition. The dough for noodles is massaged, pulled, folded uniformly until each noodle becomes the thickness of lily petals. The noodles are dropped into the broth, adding black fungus, yellow flower vegetables, tofu skin and vermicelli etc, infusing the noodles with even more flavor. If customers add the home-made red chili oil, the noodles will become even more delicious.
The nature of the noodles is warm and comforting, suitable for all seasons. The effects of the noodles: will strength the “yin” and “chi” in your body; warm up the core of your body; will increase your appetite; will make your body stronger. Frequent consumption of lamb soup will make your body less susceptible to cold. It will also help digestion, prevent fatigue and aging. Especially helpful for some illness such as anemia, asthma, bronchitis, liver disease.
The moment the noodles are out of the pot, the fragrance will penetrate all senses—after the first bite, the noodles will feel smooth on the outside as well as bouncy with every bite; with every spoonful of soup, you will find the flavor intense but not oily; if you bite the meat, you will find the meat tender and moist. Whoever eats it will want to eat more. If you want to enjoy the meal more wholeheartedly, Henan tradition is to order the noodles together with a few cold dishes.
So it turns out that the sign is a treatise on a how to enjoy the specialty of the house. I can’t speak to the health claims, but I can assure you that, “whoever eats it will want to eat more.” Just don’t try to take a photo of that sign.
Nutritious Lamb Noodle Soup (aka Su Xiang Yuan), Golden Shopping Mall, 41-28 Main Street, Flushing