When I first arrived in Huadu, I did not know how to say, “no.” This made it rather difficult when, watching someone prepare my food, I wanted to tell them, “do not add that.” Too often, I would have a plate (or bowl) choked with the Chinese equivalent of parsley. You will know of them if you have ever ordered won ton soup: those little green bands.
Well, after two months of utter complacency, I began studying Mandarin, and no was one of the first things I set out to learn. Now when I visit the Muslim noodle store, I can shout down the staff when they try to submerge my noodles in half a pound of Chinese parsley.
I am sure the noodles look… boring, but trust me when I say that boring tastes just fine. The Muslim noodle store is a tad more expensive than other places. It is, just like everywhere else, a hole in the wall, but unlike the other holes in the wall, the noodles are prepared outside of the kitchen for all to observe.
I feel rather embarrassed to say that I thought myself lucky, that I had caught them between rush hours and thus they had to prepare fresh noodles for me. No, it became quite clear that they prepare all of their noodles fresh. That involves a lot of rolling, banging, and stretching.
It made for some excitement the first three times, but after that it just became an “all right, all right. Why are you still rolling them? I’m hungry over here.” On the matter of price, however, a beef bowl, which is a bowl with three strips of beef, costs 8 RMB. I could get the same five minutes away for 4.5 RMB.
While the food is good, it is their cat that keeps me coming back. It seems that all of my favorite restaurants have some animal mascot. While my feline friend had kept her distance during our first few encounters, now she lounges under my table whenever I come to eat.
Perhaps I should try to find a pet of my own.