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Lunch, Anyone? Live Noodles

Traditional Chinese noodle shop arrives in Packard’s Corner

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There’s good news for budget-conscious diners who love fresh, hand-pulled Chinese noodles. Live Noodles, an eatery specializing in traditional, house-made noodle dishes that originated in the Lanzhou region of northwest China, has just opened practically in the heart of West Campus. Now you can order fresh-as-they-come Chinese noodles at a reasonable price just doors away from your dorm or classroom.

The restaurant, in Packard’s Corner in what had been Quan’s Kitchen, is so new that it doesn’t even have a Yelp page. But judging from the crowds when we visited last week, it doesn’t look like Live Noodles is having any trouble attracting customers. The small space was packed for lunch.

The décor may be modern (think lots of natural wood, clean lines, and playful blue orb lights), but don’t let it fool you: Live Noodles is as traditional a Chinese restaurant as you’ll find in the area. Panda Express it’s not. Our waiter began by speaking to my half-Chinese companion in Chinese, and specials written only in Chinese are on every table.

Diners can order from an array of Sichuan dishes, as well as appetizers like Phoenix feet with pickled peppers ($8), a classic dim sum dish featuring chicken feet, or green scallion with tofu ($6). You can also order a number of house specialty dishes, such as the sea cucumber hot pot ($25), a dry variation of the typical soup-based Chinese hot pot.

But Live Noodles’ specialty is noodles. Specifically, Lanzhou beef lamian noodles, which are made by twisting and folding the dough into strands of various thickness. Diners can choose from five types of noodles: hand-pulled thin, hand-pulled flat, sliced, steamed, and traditional.

Beef sliced noodle is a Live Noodles signature dish

Beef sliced noodle is a Live Noodles signature dish. Noodles are served in a savory sauce with fresh cilantro and scallions.

After glancing over at our neighbor’s table, we opted for the beef sliced noodle ($12). Bok choy, scallions, cilantro, and a glossy sauce accompanied chewy, rough-edged noodles. The beef was on the fatty side, but the green elements provided a needed burst of freshness. While a somewhat heavy dish, it was undeniably satisfying and tasty.

Next, we ordered the three seafood stew ($13), which came with hand-pulled flat noodles, similar in texture to the sliced noodles but seemingly endless in length. They were served in a grab bag of goodies: glass noodles, beef, shrimp, squid, goji berries, wood ear mushrooms, and tiny boiled eggs, all in a light but flavorful broth. The dish’s name was something of a misnomer, as we could find only two kinds of seafood in our stew, and we hadn’t expected to find beef. However, it’s hard to complain when everything tasted as good as this dish. Plus, the portion was big enough to serve two, making it a steal. This hearty stew would be perfect on a cold winter day, but was delicious on a hot summer afternoon.

Diners may also want to try Live Noodles’ mala soups ($7 to $10), known for their numbing spiciness courtesy of their Sichuan peppers, and house special dishes like the chicken big pot ($28). This may be more than you’d want to spend on a single lunch item, but it easily serves three people.

Cold wood ears features garlicky Chinese wood ear mushrooms served with a garnish of crispy bell peppers, cilantro, and scallions

Cold wood ears features garlicky Chinese wood ear mushrooms served with a garnish of crispy bell peppers, cilantro, and scallions.

Those looking for a lighter option might prefer something from the menu’s cold dishes section. We considered ordering the cucumber with egg ($5), pickled cucumbers with slices of pungent, creamy “century egg,” a preserved Chinese delicacy, but decided instead to try the cold wood ears ($6), a type of mushroom popular in Chinese cuisine. The jelly-like wood ears tasted mainly of raw garlic, which provided a nice spiciness but was a little one-note. We also expected the dish to be chilled, but it was closer to lukewarm. It was a nice counterpoint to the more filling items we ordered, though, and the fresh garnish of cilantro, red bell peppers, and scallions was enjoyable.

Barely a week old, it seems that Live Noodles has already won over diners looking for inexpensive, convenient, and authentic Chinese food, be it fresh noodles or more unusual fare that requires a daring palate. Either way, Live Noodles is the place to eat.

Live Noodles, 1026 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, is open Sunday through Thursday, noon to midnight, and Friday and Saturday, noon to 2 a.m.; phone: 617-879-1700 or 617-879-1701. The restaurant delivers within five miles for $30 minimum orders. All major credit cards are accepted with a $30 minimum order, but 5 percent is deducted if paying with cash. BU students receive a 10 percent discount with BU ID. To get there, walk or take a MBTA Green Line B trolley outbound to Babcock Street.

This is part of a weekly series featuring Boston lunch spots of interest to the BU community. If you have any suggestions for places we should feature, leave them in the Comment section below. Check out our list of lunchtime tips on Foursquare.

Kylie Obermeier can be reached at kylieko@bu.edu.

1 Comments

One Comment on Lunch, Anyone? Live Noodles

  • Maddie! on 09.14.2015 at 4:47 pm

    This reviewer has the vocabulary of a seasoned chopped chef, I am very impressed.

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