XiangXiang noodle in El Sobrante

We recently had dinner at XiangXiang noodle, a new restaurant in El Sobrante (near Pinole) that specializes in handmade noodles. We were very excited to have a good noodle place near us.

Here is what we ate:

Appetizer:

Seasoned beef shank/tendon. Bland. Tendon was thick and chewy, beef shank was overly salty and didn’t seemed cooked properly. Just ok.

Hot and a Sour soup. Just ok.


Noodles with soybean paste (Zhajiangmain). Just ok. Some of the fresh vegetables in this were musty and tainted the dish.

Lamb stewed noodle soup. As I tasted the soup the impression I got was dishwater. My husband said it was the worst soup he can remember.

Overall impressions:

Service was good and we wanted to like the place.

The menu is huge-too huge. This place is very new and there is still time to rescue it. They need to focus on a smaller number of dishes and make them taste good.

They advertise that there are noodles are handmade, but my husband was skeptical. I thought the noodles were fine, but they need to focus on execution and broth.

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I’ve been wondering about this local chain. This is the 4th Xiang Xiang (one closed in the South Bay earlier this year, and another just opened in Cupertino).

The neon advertises Shanxi knife shaved noodles— were they wide? I remember their first location having buckwheat noodles, which are made by another method.

Noodles were medium width.

I wonder how the other locations are?

I have not been, what’s the source of the skepticism on whether the noodle are handmade- too even?

Lost in another thread was the report that the noodles are shaved by machine:

I seen to remember them having a buckwheat noodle at their original location but can’t find a reference on the El Sobrante location’s menu

Edit: they mention knife shaved and hand pulled on the El Sobrante website. And at least the takeout menu differs from the other locations in that it lacks buckwheat noodles. Also, the website for the El SObrante location mentions owner Mr. Tong and the Sunnyvale location has different owners.

A Cupertino location recently opened.

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Shanxi 山西 province is famous for their knife shaved noodles, which they do server. But different than the more traditional versions at places such as Darda, their mixture of flour is different, in a similar way that QQ Noodle’s handmade (though also machine cut) noodles are - very shiny and bouncy.

This causes the texture to deviate from the best experience that can be had from 100% handmade noodles such as Darda’s or Shandong and Korean-Chinese places.

Flavor and broth wise, neither hot and sour soup, nor Zhajiangmian are Shanxi specialties so I’m not surprised that they are not up to par. These dishes are Shandong specialties.

That said, the best noodle that I’ve had at their shops (All 3 in south bay) is the beef noodle and and pork rib noodle. But I would not go out of my way to have them, as their broth base is pretty weak, and many of the soup noodles share the same base broth.

Is that the tell for being machine cut?

Thanks for the tip about Darda!

did something change at QQ noodle? Though I’ve never watched them make noodles ( and I can’t recall hearing thumping), the menu lists handpulled and the server agreed with me when I asked about it and showed the hand pulling motion. Their noodles are particularly springy.

Can’t say 100% that it is machine cut since I’ve not been in the kitchen, but a major reason is the “mystery” ingredients that gets put in to make it so white and shiny and bouncy.

Compare this type of “hand-pulled” noodle to the more traditional real hand-pulled noodle (with the thumping) of a place such as China Way in Santa Clara, and the difference in noodle type and texture is very clear.

Traditional Shandong hand-pulled noodle: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jg0c8MSCVUQ
More modern, advanced hand-pulled noodle from China: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHoQN9vQwHE

Notice that the first method is much more work to do the thumping to get the actual elasticity out of the noodle.
The 2nd, not so much work to “beat” the gluten out of the noodle, as it seems the dough mixture already has all the elasticity needed. The noodle can be easily pulled with little effort.

The result of the first type of noodle is a living, breathing noodle with micro spores that can soak up the broth of the noodle. The second type has more smooth and non-porous surface which does not soak up the broth as well.

Similarly, the knife-cut noodle belongs to the 2nd category, while Darda’s knife cut noodle belongs to the first type of flour dough.

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Tremendous thanks for that video from China way – – I had not been sure what technique, or techniques, the Korean and Shandong restaurants were using for their hand pulled noodles ( I updated the post on a different thread thanks to your information )

For the advanced technique, is that oil that they’re putting on the dough? Some of the places around here that make wide noodles use a lot of oil and it doesn’t matter that the noodles are slick because of their surface area. But for thinner noodles, that could limit their ability to hold sauce or soup.

Yes, I have noticed the oil as well. Have not researched what it might be. But the ingredients that go into the dough probably also has an effect, as I’ve heard use of lots of tapioca flour, etc.

A lot of people (even from mainland) complain of stomach problems from eating at places such as QQ noodle.

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I never noticed the noodle portion of the menu at China Way so I never went because of the rest of the relatively-American menu. Is China Way worth going for its noodles?

Depends on how far away you’re traveling from :smile: It is a Korean-Chinese place so the noodles are good. If you do make it to the area, there are a couple of other Korean-Chinese places within a mile of each other, Beijing Restaurant and Tong Soon Garden. Maybe you can try them all at once.

Thanks! I am not in the area much these days but will file these for future reference when I am in the area. BTW, what are the other interesting joints you go to in the South Bay these days?

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold