With a lunch queue known for spanning half a city block, A Niang has long been the go-to for locals craving seriously good noodles. Formerly run by A Niang herself—a beloved elderly woman from Ningbo, her grandson is now at the helm, preparing the passed-down recipes, and undoubtedly making grandma proud.
A relative hole-in-the-wall on Sinan Lu, the walls could use painting and there’re the inevitable food scraps on the floor, but it’s all part of the charm. Be prepared for a Chinese-only menu, displayed above the cash register. Once you pay and get your receipt, place it on your table (assuming you find one right away; you might need to hover) and listen out for the number written on the upper corner. Food comes out fast and frantic, especially if you go during lunch or dinner rush.
Start with the dish that made this place famous: huángyúmiàn 黄鱼面 (RMB25). A warming bowl of rich stock made from yellow croaker bones and soy sauce, it’s the perfect base for chewy noodles and fresh, flaky white fish. You’ll likely see most patrons loudly slurping the same meal. Join them to not only fit in, but to get the most flavor from each bite.
Another soup worth praising is the bàoshàn miàn 爆鳝面 (RMB30), or eel noodles. While it doesn’t sound (or look) particularly appetizing, order it anyway. Meaty, savory, sweet braised eel bobs in the same broth as the huángyúmiàn, and it is awesome. Even the seafood-wary should give it a go.
For side dishes, there’s the highly addictive xiáncàiròusī 咸菜肉丝 (RMB5), or pickled mustard greens with pork. The sour notes from the vinegar marry nicely with the savory slices of meat and pair beautifully with the salty soups. The làjiàng 辣酱 (RMB5) is also a standout, adding a spicy note to the meal. Cubes of boiled potatoes come mixed with firm tofu and a chili sauce we wish they’d bottle.
While we never got the chance to dine with the original A Niang, her homey, comforting food shines through her grandson’s cooking—making it apparent why people continue to line up for a bowl of warm noodles.
What: A Niang Mian
Address: 36 Sinan Lu (near Nanchang Lu) 思南路36号 (近南昌路)
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