This is one of the restaurants on my to-try list from my last trip to Beijing that I never got to, and so it was one of the first ones I made sure to visit this time. It turned out to be so much fun I had high hopes of returning to sample more dishes. But alas, the one location left (I think there used to be two) is so far away it doesn’t seem likely I’ll have a chance to get back there any time soon.

Like the Noodle Bar, the Noodle Loft has an open kitchen where you can watch your noodles being made. But Noodle Loft is a much bigger restaurant (we actually got seated in another room, away from the kitchen) with a much more extensive menu that goes way beyond their specialty of Shanxi-style noodles.

The noodle options are found toward the back of the menu here. There’s a mix-and-match option, where you select one of the plain noodles and then pick a sauce (such as vinegar, pork, eggplant, and others). It seems from other reviews that there used to be a sauce bar where you could select your own sauces, dressings, and condiments, but this didn’t seem to exist at this location. There were also whole noodle dishes you could order that came ready-made with a soup or a sauce.

I chose the buckwheat mao er duo (cat’s ear) noodles with the eggplant sauce, which reminded me a lot of pasta. Named for their shape, they are very similar to oricchiette (which means “little ear” in Italian), and since the eggplant sauce has tomato in it as well, my dish had a very familiar Italian taste to it. The noodles were nice and chewy, and being made of buckwheat, I felt just a little bit better indulging in it.

My husband got a dish called you po lazi mian (Shanxi-style noodles in chili oil). Ok, this selection may have been heavily influenced by me (he often lets me order ’cause I can’t decide which I’d rather get, and he is usually indifferent as well as kindly accommodating :). This dish was all too fun and tasty. When it arrived at the table, he picked up a strand of noodle with his chopsticks and discovered that it just did not seem to end! We eventually discovered that there were in fact two strands of noodles in the dish… which was still quite impressive! The noodles were super wide, and I just couldn’t get enough of the chili and garlic sauce. There were also some green sprouts buried under the noodles as well.

We also ordered a dish of tong ho (crown daisy or chrysanthemum greens), which was unexpectedly sweet (not to mention small in portion). I’m more used to the vinegary dressing this usually comes with when eaten raw, which is how I’d found it at a number of restaurants in Beijing. The fried chicken dish we ordered, though a bit pricey, was incredibly crispy and fragrant and came with two dipping sauces on the side: a sweet and sour sauce and a mixture of salt and other seasonings. I’m not that into sweet and sour, so I left most of that untouched, but I enjoyed the other seasonings, and my husband found the chicken so flavorful on its own, he didn’t use any of the dipping sauces.

There are a lot more noodle dishes I’d love to try here, including the knife-cut noodles, the noodles made with a single chopstick, and this interesting honeycomb-like noodle I saw on the menu. I’d love to sample more of the complete noodle dishes too. I guess I’ll just have to wait until the next time I come back to Beijing…

Noodle Loft (面酷)
33 Guanshun Bei Da Jie (on the second floor of the Fairmont Building), near Wangjing subway stop on line 15 [map]
Phone: 6774-9950
[Note: The location that used to be on Xi Dawang Lu no longer exists. At the time of this posting, this is currently Noodle Loft’s only location.]