Friends of Chinatown! It’s been two long weeks, I know, but I had good reason for staying away from Canal Street last Sunday. Delirious from a cocktail of Vicodin, Amoxicillin and non fat Greek yogurt, I was hardly in a position to eat anything that couldn’t be spoon fed to me in between bouts of unstoppable drooling. My wisdom teeth (or lack thereof) situation has improved, however, so I eagerly made the trip this week.
Afraid to dive into the fried bits of Chinatown’s food scene too soon, we settled on something much safer – hand pulled noodles. Our destination was Sheng Wang – a tiny underground noodle shop I’d heard whispers about before. Once again, we would braving the world east of Bowery. And once again, it was totally worth it.
You’ll find Sheng Wang hidden away on Eldridge street just south of Canal Street. It’s sandwiched between plenty of other competing hand pulled noodle shops, but trust us… this is the place you want to be. Head downstairs, grab a table, and take your time with the menu. You’ll realize quickly that a ten dollar bill will take you farther than you probably imagine.
Since this is Chinatown, and I’d never forgive you if you didn’t, start with an order of steamed dumplings, just $3 for 10. They’re served with a house made dumpling sauce concoction, but you’ll want to wait until you get your noodles. They’re best dipped in both before they disappear forever.
Next up came the fish balls. You’ll get 8 for another $3, so don’t hesitate to order them as soon as you sit down. Stuffed with just the right amount of seasoned pork and outfitted with exquisitely subtle hints fish, you’ll have a difficult time restraining yourself with these babies. If you have the self control, try to save a few for the hand pulled noodles. More on that later.
The first dish of the night was the Roasted Duck Hand Pulled Noodles ($5.50). Below a veritable glacier field of succulent duck (still on bone), you’ll find some of the chewiest, bounciest hand pulled noodles in town. For the best results, pour plenty sriracha sauce and chili oil into the mix. A bit of seasoned vinegar won’t hurt either. The result is some of the most flavorfully filling cuisine we’ve had east of Bowery.
If you still have dumplings and fish balls left (I told you to save some), let them join the party. Dip the dumplings in and fill the fish balls with the broth, and you’re guaranteed an out of body experience.
If you’re looking for a darker meat and a lighter broth, order the Mutton Hand Pulled Noodles (also just $5.50). There’s a lot more bone in the dish, so you’ll have to work for your protein, but trust us – it’s worth your time. The bone adds tons of flavor to the broth, which is neither too salty nor too bland. It’s literally just right. For those who frequent noodle shops often, you know how difficult this is.
The first thing you’ll notice when you walk into Sheng Wang is that much of the food is prepared right in front of you – literally. Its chefs are constantly at work hand crafting food you’re not likely to forget anytime soon. Our meal was just $20 total, and our best estimates suggest we had between 6 and 8 pounds of food each (it certainly felt like it). So take the jaywalk of faith across Bowery and give Sheng Wang a shot.