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Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles

photo by Robert Menzer

This Chinatown noodle shop garnered a hungry following when it opened in 2009 during the height of the economic meltdown, and not for its cushy accommodations. Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles is divey and unadorned: Duct tape holds together an exterior window, the linoleum’s peeling, and the bathroom is scrawled with poetry that includes lines like “pull my noodle” and “cock pit.” But as Wall Streeters packed their desks into banker’s boxes and took one last sad ride down the elevator, cooks here were slapping down slabs of dough and pulling them into noodles — springy strips sometimes round and sometimes sliced thin with a knife. Food lovers immediately took note, and to this day, the tiny dining room, no bigger than a dry cleaner’s foyer, is filled with in-the-know eaters and Chinatown locals alike. Opt for beef-noodle soup, a cloudy, bone-soaked broth in which the noodles of your choice swim with dark slices of beef, carrots, onions, and greens. You should also order the roast duck pan fry, featuring long, thin hand-pulled noodles you’ll need to cut with scissors. This dish epitomizes what a good lo mein should be: greasy, rich, and studded with cooked-but-still-crisp vegetables, presided over by fragrant, sweetly spiced duck.