New Dumpling Restaurant Replaces Nice Time Deli in Irvine

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101noodle.jpg
Edwin Goei

Well that was fast. Two weeks ago, Nice Time Deli, Irvine's decades-old Taiwanese stalwart for pork chop rice and other comfort food standards closed. Now, its replacement is already packing them in. Good-luck plants crowd one corner and red paper lanterns dangle outside as a hastily hung tarp with the new name partially blots out the old one.

Translated, it says Lu Wei Ju, but they are in fact part of a restaurant chain called 101 Noodle Express, which began in Alhambra and has branches in Arcadia and City of Industry.

Despite what the name suggests, 101 Noodle Express is a dumplings specialist, both boiled (shuijiao) and fried like potstickers. There are at least twenty varieties, most of them pork-filled and paired with vegetables like leeks, bok boy, sour Chinese pickled cabbage,  even pumpkin. There are some stuffed with fish, lamb, shrimp, which is either combined with more pork, vegetable matter, or every conceivable permutation thereof. Ten dumplings come to a serving.

The SGV branches of the restaurants are also well-regarded for their De Zhou chicken, a famous dish named after the city in Shandong province from where it originated--half a bird deep-fried, braised in a flavorful liquid, and hacked into segments before service.

On the noodle front, dan dan noodles, ox tail noodles, noodle bowls with beef tendon and pig's feet feature prominently. And of course, they do the Shandong specialty of beef rolls called niu rou juan bing, those crispy jelly-roll-like logs that is to this plaza like pho is to Bolsa. LA Weekly's Jonathan Gold had this to say about the one he had at the Arcadia branch, " A meal at 101 Noodle without a beef roll is as unthinkable as a lunch at Langer's without pastrami."

This, by the way, is not a review, but a preview of what's being served. With so many dishes and so many dumplings, I'll need more time.

*Thanks to Cunning Stunts on the heads up.

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9 comments
Andy Warthog
Andy Warthog

... 12 minutes, 13 minutes, 14 minutes, ... better hurry -- only one left ....

Cunning Stunts
Cunning Stunts

Ok here is a tip. across the way, 50ft away is a Schesuan restaurant on the corner. its called Chong Qing Mei Wei Szechwan Restaurant. They have the most incredible dish there. Its worth it just to go for this dish. Everything else is OK and I have not tried all of the dishes, but this one dish is incredible. Its on the first page of their menu and I believe its $9.99. Its called the #13   fried chicken cubes with Hot Pepper. You better like spicy food. But its not stupid spicy (insanely hot just for the sake of being hot), but it has so much unique spicy FLAVOR. In fact the chilis actualyl have a slightly numbing effect that I can not explain. It is so good Fried bits of chicken satisfy that fried craving we all get

The green beans with pork is also good. Everything else I had was just OK, but I have only tried a fraction of the menu.

I think after Edwin eats this dish, he will not miss the spicy pork chop at Nice Time. It is just that good. Their website is here http://www.chongqingmeiweichua...

Please review this one particular dish.

Did I mention that I love this dish?

JB
JB

You say "Thanks to Cunning Stunts on the heads up" so eloquently.....

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

We ate there on Sunday. I agree with Shuji—the service was cold and the food came out very slowly. They actually unwrapped the cold appetizers in front of us, a "nicety" not done for anyone else in the extremely crowded room.

The "Hua vegetable" steamed dumplings, incidentally, are excellent. They're leek... and they're dead ringers for Russian pelmeni. If you added smetana instead of soy and vinegar...

Cunning Stunts
Cunning Stunts

Somebody go eat some stuff here and tell us about it!!! Tell us what to order. Its a bit intimidating, but looks good!

Shuji Sakai
Shuji Sakai

We ate here last night - worth the stop. Service was indifferent and slow, which is disappointing for a brand new place.

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

Chong Qing Mei Wei is an excellent place. They have the best huo bao yao hua ("fire-exploded kidney flowers", which is the best name EVER for a dish) I've ever had outside New York City.

Oh, and that dish is 辣子鸡丁... la zi ji ding ("spicy chicken cubes").

edjusted
edjusted

The beef roll is good and is one of their specialties.  The fried dumplings are also good and are *juicy*. I mean really, it's juicy like a XLB dumpling is juicy. Also heard good things about their soup noodles, but haven't actually tried it yet. The service is...slightly inadequate. Prepare for a wait.

Tenjobara
Tenjobara

Hi Dave, how did you get the chinese characters to show up here in the posts?  I couldn't get them to show up.  Thank you for your help. 

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