JTYH has been praised and showered with media accolades since Tony Chen (Sinosoul) brought it on the map back in ’09.
The restaurant is known for its dao xiao mian, or hand-shaved noodles. Followed by a LA Weekly feature — the rest is history.
“Have you encountered Shanxi knife-cut noodles? Because if you haven’t, you should really give them a try — thick, irregular things, frilled on one edge like the gills of an oyster, and about the size and heft of a businessman’s belt,” Jonathan Gold wrote. The owner of the restaurant told me since the media presence, “lao wais,” or Westerners, have been flooding their restaurant on weekends with newspaper copies — ordering everything off the menu per Gold’s recommendations.
Sorry to break it to you all, but JTYH isn’t the real thing. You’re not eating Shanxi knife-cut noodles. it’s not authentic Shanxi cuisine.
In fact, the original owner, who was a Taiwanese professor, never really knew how to cook Shaanxi noodles. He picked it up from his wife’s brother. The current chef, who was the subject of all the media coverage in ’09, comes from the Tianjin Province. He learned how to cook from the Taiwanese professor and even admitted himself that the Taiwanese professor didn’t really know how to shave dao xiao noodles.
Don’t get me wrong. The food at JTYH is amazing and their dao xiao noodles really do rank in the top 10. But if you were going to JTYH to get a taste of Shanxi, you were wasting your time. It’s delicious, very ‘Q’ and made with a lot of skill — but it’s not the real thing.
Just another example of unchecked media hype. So where is the closest you can get to Shaanxi in the SGV? I have a couple of interviews lined up from chefs from that specific province so I’ll let you know once I speak to them. Full transcript of the interview to come.