Fresh off his City of Gold documentary debut last weekend, Jonathan Gold goes toMian, which opened back in January from Tony Xu, who founded the budding Chengdu Taste empire. Mian, which is meant to be more of a quicker, casual concept with a more approachable set of Chongqing-style noodles, has been lurking a bit more than Chengdu Taste in terms of opening fever, but this latest review filed by the Goldster surely won't help matters.
Gold jump rights into what makes Mian's noodles great:
The flavors are bright and clean, informed as much by the tart funkiness of Sichuan pickles as by pure chile heat; the noodles (handmade, although not necessarily in-house) have an integrity and chew you might associate with good Italian pasta...
Hot-sour noodles, a popular Chengdu specialty, are softer and thinner than the Chongqing noodles, serving almost to thicken the tangy broth. Beef pickle noodles are garnished with sliced meat and submerged in a tingly, green Sichuan pepper-rich broth that may remind you of the green pepper water-boiled fish at Chengdu Taste across town. The noodles are in a mild chile sauce that's spiked with soft, barely gamy bits of chicken gizzard and comes across almost as a Sichuan take on Thanksgiving giblet gravy: both novel and familiar as a folk song...
But you're probably here for the zhajiangmian, a bowl whose surface is paved with ground pork and scallions, and whose noodles have a distinct chewy pull. These are noodles with a mean streak, a potent lashing of hot chile and oil, laced with just enough Sichuan peppercorn to numb your palate, to make the next bite not just tolerable but actually kind of great.
Mian by Chengdu Taste
301 W Valley Blvd #115
San Gabriel, CA