Shanxi knife-cut noodles in Rosemead.
So basically, right around the time of my birthday this year, LA Weekly came out with its list of the 99 Essential restaurants for Los Angeles. Covered in this space, in its entirety. I couldn’t hit all the places during my grand birthday week, but I took a nice dent out of the list. I worked especially hard on the Chinese places I hadn’t heard. Thus, I came to JTYH Restaurant.
First off, JTYH isn’t just a restaurant, it’s a Market and a Restaurant, each sitting right next to the other. When you walk in, don’t expect a lot of ambiance, or a lot of style. This is a bare bones joint, just tables and chairs. They save all that for their cooking.
The space is about the size of a 7-Eleven, which I’m 90% it was before JTYH Restaurant came to town. It’s a pretty small kitchen. One order in, one order out at a time, so it feels. (Also, no website The links you’re seeing are to a Google+ listing).
But after sitting down, after having my food I found out why JTYH Restaurant is as respect as it is. It is the very definition of a “simple good thing”, paraphrasing Anthony Bourdain. JTYH Restaurant is a unique place, even among other Chinese Restaurants. Why? And just what are Shanxi knife-cut noodles? For this, I’ll turn to Jonathan Gold (from his October 2009 piece):
Have you encountered Shanxi knife-cut noodles? Because if you haven’t, you should really give them a try — thick, irregular things, frilled on one edge like the gills of an oyster, and about the size and heft of a businessman’s belt.
These noodles, shaved from a log of dough directly into boiling water, were the specialty of the late Dow Shaw, a dismal cafe hidden behind a Rosemead appliance showroom, that was a star in the early years of the Chinese San Gabriel Valley. At a time when most of the restaurants were recognizably from either Hong Kong, Shanghai or Taiwan, Dow Shaw was a true exotic, a glimpse into the great swathes of China that existed beyond the guidebooks, a taste of leek turnovers and fried dumplings stuffed with beef and wild cumin, spicy beef soup and what I imagined to be the original version of the moo shu pork that had become a staple of American Chinese restaurants. Even if you couldn’t place Shanxi on a map — it is tucked on a plateau somewhere between Beijing and Mongolia — you could taste what its inhabitants had for dinner.
To me, I look at the Cold Cucumbers, and I think Shanghai. I see the Beef Noodle Soup and think Taiwan. These are two very unique, very different spheres of Chinese cooking, and to have them blended together in such a way is unique and more than a bit welcome. And best of all there is a whole universe of places like this, that cut their own path, that occupy their own niche. They are all about serving the Chinese-American community of the San Gabriel Valley, as well as frequent visitors like me. The tastes, the menu are geared for them. I’m just glad I can go along for the ride.
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: It’s weird. I ordered the Sausage and Knife Cut Noodles as the main dish and a Cold Cucumber with Garlic as an appetizer. The Cold Cucumber was nice. A little palette cleansing before the main show began.
The Sausage and Knife Cut Noodles had a strange effect on me. It arrives at your table, a nice healthy portion (enough for two). It’s not the most beautiful of plates. It looks like a mess of Wok fried something or another that you’d get a P.F. Chang’s. The first few bites aren’t extraordinary either.
Then you keep eating it. You start taking your bites of sausage and noodle together, and…I don’t know…magic starts happening. It’s a lovely dish. I downed the whole thing by myself.
And now, I’m hearing is the thing to really get is the Beef Rolls and the Beef Noodle Soup.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: This is basically a locals only joint. Bear in mind, that’s half of it’s charm. Still because it’s mostly a locals only joint, you shouldn’t expect a huge amount of help from the staff. Not that they don’t want to help or anything, but there is a bit of a language barrier there. You can order just fine, but in depth conversations about how who and what is made may be a bit difficult.
PARKING: Simple. They have their own lot. It’s not huge, but there should be space when you come by. A lot of JTYH Restaurant’s business is take-out, so people are coming in and out of there. But again…there’s not a lot of spaces there. You may have to park out on Valley if all else fails, but I don’t think all else will fail.
9425 Valley Blvd
Rosemead, CA 91770
Tel: (626) 442-8999
Daily (except Tuesdays): 11:00am – 9:00pm