Yi Mian Chun Feng: My Afterwork Noodle Remedy
ADD: 26 Wu Xing Road
HOURS: 11:00 - 16:00; 17:00 - 21:30
AVRG. PRICE: 50
It usually happened this way: I got off work, brain dead, stomach empty, I’d hop on a cab with only one destination in mind, Yi Mian Chun Feng.
A low-key noodle house tucked away on the quite Wuxing Lu, Yi Mian Chun Feng, is my go-to place for comfort food in Shanghai. The literal translation of the name is “noddle like spring breeze”. Eating a bowl of noodle here, did often conjure up the feeling of a gentle breeze brushing against your cheek, or soul.
Driving through numerous dark, winding roads as the night falls upon the city of Shanghai, as we approached the destination, I finally saw the pale yellow light from inside the noodle house, I always felt so relieved and comforted as if someone has lifted a big stone away from my heavy heart.
I guess I must have been here more than 50 times since I moved back to Shanghai. So many times that I befriended the owners and a gang of friends and family.
A bowl of Ban Mian (mixed dry noodle, similar to lo mein), a dish of seasonal green, a soup made of 6 different mushrooms, then a big gulp of some ice cold craft beer…The dead me was completely resurrected.
My first impression: the owner really knows the trick.
A set of menu board frequently seen at many Shanghainese or Suzhou noodle house was the only traditional preserved in this house. The rest , quite disruptive.
Natural colored wood furniture reminds of Normcore and MUJI style. A fridge filled with all kinds of craft beers stands next to the cashier. And there were different types of beer glasses to go with the particular beer of your choice.
They also have wine glasses for burgundy whites and reds…a bit unexpected huh?
The taste is also very different from the traditional street-style noodle house. The noodle is a mix of Japanese Ramen and Suzhou Noodle, and if you feel something’s missing, it might be MSG. No MSG added and never overseasoned, as far as Shanghai is concerned, this is rare.
As there’s no MSG in the noodle, it sets a higher bar for the quality of ingredients – the umami flavor has to be generated from the ingredients rather than seasoning.
My first noodle here was Crab Meat Ban Mian, a popular local delight during the hairy crab season. Here the meat is actually a mix of crab eggs and crab meat, slightly pan sautéed, served hot or cold as a topping.
Priced at 99 kuai, it’s not cheap. They hired an experienced shi fu (old master) to help preparing the crabs, 20 pounds of crab a day. If you’ve ever had a crab yourself, you know it’s not much meat, making the noodle limited amount. You can also have it with rice…actually I prefer having it
Crab season is short. If you missed it you have to wait for another year.
The fact that Crab meat mian is only available seasonal makes it so divine among local diners…but again you can’t get it all year round. Yi Mian Chun Feng started selling another new noodle to appease the demand for Crab Meat. It’s quite innovative, I bet you never had lo mein with razor clams and little clams...
But I always preferred its nickname – Nude Body Lo Main.
You should see for yourself:
Well, you get what I mean. FYI, razor clam was nicknamed “beauty’s thigh” in local food culture for long.
Clam and razor clam were kept in a sink to “vomit” sand before proper preparation. And the “thigh”, as you can see from the pictures, was quite tight and tangy.
The little black spots you might have noticed, like vanilla beans, were actually shrimp eggs. And they are very expensive. With such high quality ingredients, seasoning was simple and straightforward with housemade scallion oil.
The way I like it was to add a little red vinegar, a few drops will do the trick. It’s balacing the taste and it goes very well with seafood.
I always preferred lo mein than the noodle soup. T
Lo mein won’t go soggy as soup noodle does. Plus the mushroom soup served with lo mein is my favorite. The soup is made from six different kinds of mushrooms, with a look resembling Chinese medicine soup but a smell and taste so elegant and hearty that’s almost unforgettable.
Plus it doesn't make sense to drink hot soup noodle during summertime anyway.
Before they served Nude Body Lo Mein, I checked this place out almost every week because of another topping, Double Dragon.
Pork tenderloin and Chinese eel slices, quickly stir-fried with chives, add a little white peper, off we go.
As local food culture goes, pork was also known as “Ground dragon”, and eel “Purple Dragon”. Coupled together, we’ve got Double Dragon Lo Mein.
It’s easy to tell if the ingredients are fresh or not. It was impossible for noodle to taste bad if it was fresh. Soft eel and the tender pork tenderloin, with light spicy chives…boom!
The most enjoyable part is to mix it all up, and then heads down, bottom up!
At one very late dinner at Yi Mian Chun Feng, I realized if I came even later, they’d throw away all Double Dragon as it can’t be kept overnight. The mere thought of this great topping might have become cat’s food, I can’t help feeling heart-aching that I couldn’t eat more!
That’s how I came up with idea of eating the toppings on its own, without the noodle…this way I could eat more…
For example, I ordered Nude Body Lo Mein, serving with Double Dragon topping.
I still remember this time I had something gross and came here to clean my palate with double dragon toppings…
I was not born with the Shanghainese type of sweet addiction but I always enjoyed the dessert routine. At a noodle house that does not serve any kind of sweet stuff, it still can be solved…see the white rice like stuff in the bowl? Fermented sweet rice, served chilled, reminds of sparkling Japanese nigori (unfiltered sake.)
Yi Mian Chun Feng. I rarely call it by the name. We say, “the noodle house.”
A place that makes me feel at home. Why would I ever want to go eat somewhere else?