With all this talk about dao xiao mian and authenticity, I think it’s appropriate to bring up the first time I was exposed to this particular noodle genre.
Becca and I were in Dunhuang, a oasis in the middle of the Gobi desert. We had a camel camping trip cued up for the evening and decided to wander in town to stock up on dried fruits and nuts when stumbled into a market area with tons of small restaurants with dishes from provinces all over China. (There was even a Korean restaurant.)
Now I’m not sure why Shanxi Sliced Noodles appealed to us. Perhaps it was because the 服务员, or waitress, actually looked like she was willing to bother with two foreigners who were unable to fluently navigate through menus.
She was. We asked for the most popular sliced noodles and noticed a man in the kitchen shaving a ball of flour into thin strips of noodles. To be honest I don’t remember anything about the dish but I’m assuming we were sufficiently satisfied. In a couple of hours Becca and I were going to ride camels in the heart of the Gobi desert and camp among the sand dunes for an entire evening.
With absolutely no idea what to expect or who our guide would even be, we were too nervous to even pay attention to the food.