Chinatown's Nan Zhou Hand Drawn Noodle House gets lots of praise for, of course, their hand drawn noodles freshly made to order in house (sit in the back by the kitchen to watch the noodles being pounded out). But my question always with traditional Asian restaurants, and especially those like Nan Zhou that feature soup, is, "Is anything vegetarian?"
I'm happy to report that there are two vegetarian dishes at Nan Zhou, the small and always bustling (meaning get in and get out, 'cause others are waiting) Chinatown restaurant. Two dishes may not seem like a lot, but most of the menu is just meaty variations of noodle soup. Oh, and for the adventurous non-vegetarians there are spicy pigs ears, marinated intestines, and marinated beef tendons in the appetizer section to keep you busy. For $3, a small plate of noodles with peanut sauce and scallions is the cheapest way to fill up. These are great, fresh, chewy noodles with a basic, salty and nutty sauce that was a bit stiff, but a few spoonfuls of my partner's soup broth loosened the noodles right up. No where near as transcendent as Han Dynasty's garlicky sesame noodle dish that will have you dreaming about a plate of noodles (and tasting it) for days, but for $3, you can't complain.
Noodle soups come with either hand drawn noodles or shaved noodles (knife-cut and thicker), and if you don't specify, you're getting the hand drawn noodles, which is what most people get.
The large, $4.50 bowl of steaming vegetable noodle soup has Asian greens, scallions, and cilantro swimming in a piping-hot, mild vegetable broth with a pleasant hint of star anise that can be spiced up with the usual suspects of condiments on the table — soy sauce, vinegar, Sriracha, and chilis in oil. But the fresh, tender noodles are the star here, and you'll think you can't finish the whole bowl, but you will.
Slurp your winter-cold little hearts out vegetarians, because this bowl of noodle soup might be one of only a handful of traditional Asian noodle soups in the city you can enjoy.
Update: The vegetarian-ness of the vegetable noodle soup is dubious. Proceed at your own risk.
Nan Zhou Hand Drawn Noodle House
Update: Moved ! 927 Race St., 1022 Race St., Philadelphia, PA 19107