Friday, February 20, 2009

惠元面庄 - Huiyuan Noodles

This Hongwasi area noodle house with its sign proclaming "Chongqing Flavour" scared me off in the past - I can handle Chengdu-spicy, but Chongqing-spicy is usually too much. Stellar Dianping ratings encouraged me to give it a try anyway, and I found myself in the area and starving one late afternoon of a day where nothing had gone right.

My order of one liang 姜鸭面 (ginger duck noodles) and one liang of 豌杂面 (peas and scraps noodles) gave the boss pause. "That's really spicy", he warned. I was too hungry to reason on the wisdom of eating a lot of very, very spicy food on such an empty stomach so confirmed my order and sat down to wait. The ginger duck noodles came first:

With the big chunks of fresh ginger and both fresh and pickled peppers, they were hot enough to give me the sniffles after only two bites. There was also a good hit of numbing Sichuan pepper. The endorphin effect of the hot peppers combined with numbing ma lent this bowl of noodles great mood-altering qualities.

The server then brought me a bowl of 蕃茄元子面 (tomato meatball noodles) by mistake. They looked so good I nearly accepted them, but I really wanted to try the famous peas and scraps noodles:

Very unassuming on the surface, but a little lifting and stirring with chopsticks revealed hot pepper oil and other goodies underneath. The broken-up peas soaked up the seasonings and kind of coated the noodles. Stirred up:

After leaving I walked around the area for a while, amazed at feeling so mellow and content after being starving and stressed a short half hour before, and wondering if eating spicy food is what gives the Sichuanese their famous indolence. Next time, must try those tomato meatball noodles.

Address: 惠元面庄 共和村

The place is not far from the first ring, Hongwasi Jie stop. You walk down Hongwasi Jie then make a right at Gonghe Cun. Bottom floor of the the pink building which is under construction and covered with scaffolding at the moment.

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