For years, I’ve driven by this tiny Parkside restaurant that touts “hand-cranked noodles” on its front window. I’ve stopped in dozens of times only to be met with a long line of diners waiting to be seated ahead of me and at least one cranky family member that can’t deal with the wait. But finally, the day has arrived and I’m hear to tell you that, yes, Shandong Deluxe is all that.
So, the first thing you need to know is that the noodles are not just hand-cranked. Depending on what you order, they could be hand-pulled (for soups), hand-rolled (into pancakes) or hand stuffed (ah, the dumplings). Ordering can be a little overwhelming as the menu is extensive and, while the staff is congenial, there was a bit of a language barrier. We were prepared to be adventurous and we couldn’t have been happier with the results.
As if the chewy, thick noodles weren’t enough to send us into a state of oblivion, the fillings for both the dumplings and something called a “beef wrap” were fresh, bold and over-the-top delish. Let me explain. Here I am paying less than $8 per dish and I sneak over to watch the kitchen crew. One guy is taking this oblong-shaped noodle dough and weaving it between his fingers until it looks like he’s playing cats cradle. Like magic, it’s gone from being a creamy, white blob to 40 feet of noodle love wrapped in a perfect skein. I tried to capture it in a photo, but its all a big blur.
Another guy is rolling the same dough into a flat pancake, which he then fries on both sides. When that’s done, he wraps it around thinly sliced beef and green onions and cuts it into pieces that are both functional and elegant. They could slide these onto a ceramic Heath plate in an alternate location, charge 2-3 times as much and still have a devoted following.
So here we are in complete heaven when my son realizes his watermelon drink hasn’t arrived. I’m thinking we’ve just ordered him an overly sweetened canned soda and dismissing myself of the guilt, when we look over and see our waitress scooping chunks of watermelon into a blender. Nice! Is this brain surgery? No. But when’s the last time you pulverized your watermelon into a sweet, refreshing beverage? I’ve had ague frescos in the Mission, but without added sugar or water, this was totally different–and made to order!
We left Shandong Deluxe full, entertained and ready to brave the lines next time around. And trust me, that day will come very, very soon.
Shandong Deluxe 1042 Taraval St. San Francisco, CA 94116 415-592-8801
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