CHICAGO (WLS) --There won't be any ball-drops Friday night, but the Chinese New Year does begin at midnight. The "Year of the Rooster" will have just about every restaurant in Chinatown busy, of course, but you might want to seek out a new spot on South Wentworth where you'll find hand-pulled and hand-shaved noodles exactly as they're made in China.
The process of making noodles, to order, is labor-intensive, to say the least. But at the aptly-named Slurp Slurp, they have a well-trained cook from China who does it effortlessly. The payoff is a noodle that has not only superior flavor, but texture as well.
Every bowl has one of two options at Slurp Slurp in Chinatown - just look for the wide-eyed cartoon character pulling noodles out front. They're eating noodles either shaved with a knife or hand-pulled, served in either soup broth or stir-fried.
"It takes long preparation time to do the final shot. So actually they prepare the dough for about two or three days and refrigerate it to make the texture better," said Marcel Lee, one of the managers at Slurp Slurp.
And texture is key. For the shaved versions, the noodles have an almost jagged edge, which is more pronounced if you opt to have them stir-fried. But the hand-pulled are truly a thing of beauty. Just watch the chef stretch the gluten in her dough, pounding it on the table, twisting it into knots, then methodically pulling, stretching and multiplying the noodles, until they're ready to be tossed into the water to cook for just a minute or so.
"For me, I like the hand-pulled better, but actually it's a different texture. Hand-pulled noodle is more slurpy; and shaved noodle is more wider and thicker so more chewier so different texture," Lee said.
At the table, add some pickled greens or a drizzle of chili oil to give it some punch. The dishes are pretty bland otherwise, as no chilies are used in this style of cooking. The noodle chef seems to have worked out a pretty good system, making noodles to-order. Is it training, or just a natural gift?
"I think it's family skill," said Lee.
EXTRA COURSE: Dumplings, pork buns at Slurp Slurp
2247 S. Wentworth Ave