As much as I adore Sichuan food, it is nice to take a break from the local cuisine occasionally. But in Chengdu, most of the time, doing so involves significantly more time and money than sticking to the same old chuancai. So I was happy to find a Beijing-style noodle shop in the neighborhood by the Waterfront.
Jingman Lou (京满楼老北京炸酱面大王) is decorated with traditional furniture and staffed by waiters in Qing Dynasty-era uniforms who greet each customer loudly upon entry. Beijing opera whines in the background while a muted TV plays the local news. It's small but cozy and not dingy like most noodle shops, but service is equally fast. The specialty is noodles: giant bowls of fat, wide, chewy noodles that come with strips of fresh cucumber, turnip, cabbage, and leek, chunks of celery, and green soybeans with your choice of a sauce. You can choose from the savory, meaty Beijing-style sauce, sesame paste, a few other meat sauces, or egg and tomato. The sauce is served on the side; you mix it all together at the table so the veggies stay crunchy and fresh. Each bowl is around 10 yuan and is big enough to share.
Another nice thing that differentiates it from other noodle shops is the selection. The seasonally rotating cold dishes are good, particularly the salted egg yolk with pumpkin (咸蛋黄南瓜/xián dànhuáng nánguā)—kind of like sweet battered fried corn (金沙玉米/jīnshā yùmǐ), but with pumpkin instead of corn. They even have some nice Beijing classics that are usually hard to come by in Chengdu, like the pork meatballs known as "lion's head" (狮子头/shīzitóu).
One time while I was dining, a lone diner in her 50s kept exclaiming loudly that she couldn't eat a thing after interrogating the waiter about the selections in such a fashion that I was blushing for him—but I think it's nice to have something subtle for a change. I'd definitely recommend the sesame-paste noodles, perfect also if you want a vegetarian option.
Jingmen Lou started operations in 2010 and has four branches in Chengdu. This location specializes in noodles while the others focus on Beijing roast duck.
Jingman Lou Old Beijing Zhajiang Noodles Master
298 Hongji Xin Lu No. 24
202 Yipian Tianxia, C Block, 4F
Tel. 87578979 87575995
139 Tianjiu Bei Xiang No. 22 (Near Tianfu Changcheng)
Tel. 85359969 85359989
Sansheng Xiang Hongxiacun (Shuishan Lu)
Tel. 18080852339 13980094448
This article by DF was first published in CHENGDOO citylife Magazine, issue 52.