Growing up as a huge professional wrestling fan (yes, I know it’s fake)–when I pictured a Mongolian, I always imagined this:
The Mongolian Stomper, a ruthless wrestler from Mongolia.
Well, on a recent trip to China, I ran into some Mongolians and they looked nothing like “the Stomper” or like this, which is what you’ll see if you Google “Mongolian”:
But what I did see in China, absolutely amazed me. And I think it’ll amaze you too.
This episode of Follow Jordan takes place in Chengdu, China. If you ever go to China, Chengdu is a pretty popular destination, kind of on the second tier. Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong–that’s the first tier. High up on the second tier is Chengdu. Chengdu is popular because it’s really close to one of the biggest Panda sanctuaries in China. And who doesn’t wanna see cute little cuddly panda bears when they’re in China?
The pandas were cute.
So I had just arrived in Chengdu with my girlfriend at the time. She’s not my girlfriend now though, as hard as this is to believe, I’m single now.
I wanted to walk a million miles to get to some good looking street food I had seen. But my girlfriend was tired and wanted to stay a little closer.
We soon came upon a little hole in the wall on the right. She wanted to stop. I didn’t. They had pictures of seemingly every meal on the wall. At the time, I didn’t see the brilliance in this and just assumed it was some cheesy place.
When I looked at the pictures to decide what I wanted, basically everything was a noodle dish. Noodles with chicken. Noodles with beef. Noodles with egg, with tomato. Dozens of combos with different kinds of sauces too.
The prices were so cheap, even by Chinese standards, that I was contemplating ordering two, cause I just figured they were small.
In the end, I ordered just one dish though, noodles with scrambled eggs and tomato on top. We then sat, waited and observed (my favorite thing to do when traveling).
But like I said, I was soon amazed at what unfolded in front of my eyes.
This cute little guy with a cute little hat came out, grabbed a piece of dough or something like it, and started stretching it. And twirling it (show with your hands). He was making my pasta!
It was really cool to see this guy turn a clump of dough into these long, thin noodles in a matter of minutes–and with such apparent ease. When he was done, he just plopped them in the the boiling water.
These pictures really don’t do it justice. You should watch the video to get a better feel. The pasta-making starts at the 2 minute, 15 second mark.
When he was done making those spaghetti-like noodles, I saw him start the process over again–from the beginning.
It seems, that no matter what type of pasta he’s making, he always starts with a big clump of dough, like this:
He kneads it for a while…
But then things start to get crazy again:
When it’s ready, he twirls it up real nice, and sets it aside. That’s his base for all the different shaped noodles he makes.
Now, he cuts off a portion, like he did before… but this time he flattens the dough.
Then he goes back to the same stretching/twirling motion from before. But since he flattened the dough first, now it’s making more of a fettucini-like noodle. This guy knows how to move his fingers.
He always keeps a clump of dough in his hand as a handle. Then at the end, he cuts it off, and throws it in the boiling water.
Now, the language was definitely a barrier for me in China. The only way I even knew these were Mongolians was I met some dude a few days later in the same place (because I think I went there 7 times) who spoke a little English and told me so.
Do you even know where Mongolia is? Neither do I, let’s check it out.
Mongolia is right between Russia and China, this part of Russia is Siberia, as opposed to the more European side with Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Man, I never noticed Russia takes up like half the world! Cool!
Here’s my delicious, huge mound of pasta with eggs and tomato top. I went on to order that dish over and over again during my stay in Chengdu.
I actually saw this style of pasta making again a couple times on that trip, so if you’re in China, keep an eye out for it.
I learned a few lessons at this restaurant.
- Mongolians don’t always look like this:
- Pictures of food on the wall in China–that’s not cheesy that’s genius
- In China, sometimes you do get more than you pay for (but definitely not at a tea ceremony, one of my most embarrassing stories, to be told in a future episode)
I don’t have an address of the noodle place, but I created a map with two landmarks and made a “noodle zone” to help you find it. That noodle zone is about a 10 minute walk. So it shouldn’t be too hard. I wouldn’t put this up here if I wasn’t really close.
I hope you enjoyed this episode. Keep in an eye out, in the coming weeks, we’ll be eating bull tail in Andalucia, trying to shop at closed supermarkets, recreating the best salad in all of Spain, buying weed in Amsterdam and talking to the ladies of the night in Madrid.
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I’m Jordan I’ll see you next time.
Tzai Chien! That means “Goodbye!” in Chinese.