>> Wednesday, February 16, 2011
This is something you don't see everyday.
If you look really closely, you'll see a noodle master behind the counter tossing and whirling a huge rope of dough.*
Sure, if you're in China and you explicitly seek it out, you can find traditional Beijing-style hand-pulled noodles in a number of locations. In the US, however, it's a bit of a lost art. Pulling and stretching noodle dough requires a ton of physical strength and stamina. Furthermore, it takes months of training before a chef can consistently and accurately pull out perfectly formed noodles for customers.
As a result, it's virtually impossible to see this type of food in the US unless if you are in New York, LA, or . . . . Las Vegas?
Welcome to Beijing Noodle No. 9, one of the newer additions to the Caesars Palace Empire here in the middle of the Strip.
Unlike a typical noodle shop in China, Beijing Noodle No. 9 is trendy, bright, and ultra clean.
Two crazy huge fish tanks guard the entrance, making the inside of the restaurant feel almost unreal in a surrealistic way.
We started with some pot stickers. Although they were reasonably authentic, they were not particularly special, and, at $2 a piece, felt very, very expensive. I would skip this in lieu of the noodles!
Chef's Special Handmade Noodles with Eggs (large)
All the noodle dishes come in two different sizes: small ($15-18) and large ($23-$28). We had a party of 6, so we chose to share three large bowls of noodles plus the dumplings. This was just enough food for a crowd that has several small appetites. I wouldn't say we were stuffed, but we were reasonably satisfied. People with larger appetites may think it's not quite enough food.
Chef's Special Handmade Noodles with Pork and Mushroom (large - all mixed!)
Overall, the flavors of the dishes were very good. My favorite was the handmade noodles with pork and mushroom, which had a deep, earthy sauce that tasted delicious with the chewy handmade noodles.
Braised Beef Brisket with Handmade Noodles
We did note some inconsistency in the noodle texture. Our braised beef brisket's hand-pulled noodles were overcooked, and therefore lacked the super chewy texture you come to expect with hand-pulled noodles. On the contrary, our Pork and Mushroom knife shaved noodles were gloriously chewy. I enjoyed every single bite.
We knew the kitchen was capable of better tasting noodles because later on, we actually walked up to the counter to watch the Noodle Master make some noodles. Amused by our fascination, he tossed us a freshly pulled and freshly cooked noodle to try.
It was FANTASTIC! It had the most amazing texture. It was eons better than the overcooked noodles that had been swimming in our beef brisket soup.
Why the difference? Perhaps the dish sat out on the counter for too long before the server gave it to us; or perhaps that particular batch sat in boiling water moments too long. Who knows? In any event, we were bummed that our little taste test was so different from our experience at our table.
Despite the disappointment with one of our noodle soups, we were still overall pretty pleased with the place. Yes, the food is definitely more expensive than normal, but then . . this is Vegas! Everything on the Strip is overpriced. The prices are comparable to other quality restaurants on the Strip.
It's surprising to me how many people on general review sites (e.g., Yelp, Urbanspoon) give this place bad reviews. Granted, many of the negative reviews come from people who are shocked and upset by the prices. However, several complain about the bland taste of the food.
I agree that you can find equally good or better food for a lot less elsewhere, like Flushing (Queens, NYC) or Los Angeles. However, I disagree about the flavors being bland. In fact, we were all quite pleased with the flavors ("we" being two people who grew up in Taiwan and four others who have traveled extensively in Asia). Unlike Americanized Chinese food, which is almost always over-sauced, over-salted, and over-MSGed, the flavors here were clean, balanced, and enjoyable.
Bottom line: if you appreciate the unique aspects of handmade noodles (the texture, the wow factor of watching them pull it!) and it doesn't bother you to pay a lot more than normal for Chinese food, I think you'll enjoy your meal here. However, if you are just looking for good, solid Chinese food at a reasonable price, you might be better off driving about a mile down Spring Mountain Road to Chinatown, Las Vegas.
This post is part of a larger Las Vegas series. Posts in this series:
Beijing Noodle No. 9
Joel Robuchon (The Mansion)
Enoteca San Marco
How to Make Hand Pulled Noodles
Noodle Loft (Mian Ku)
Beijing Noodle No. 9
3570 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89109
*If you look REALLY closely, you'll see Bryan in the picture too.