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mandarin noodle soup
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From now til about April, there isn’t much from the Chinese place I’m all that apt to order other than the largest, duckiest, most noodle-laden soup on the menu. I often wonder why “giant soup,” as I affectionately refer to it, isn’t more popular. Why am I frequently the only one in the restaurant slurping juicy noodles? Keep your deep-fried chicken with whatever and blandness with broccoli, I’m face-down in good stuff here. 

I think I gravitate towards Chinese noodle soups to indulge my inner food control freak. I can choose from any combination of noodles — egg, rice, thin, thick, flat, hand-pulled, knife-peeled, spinach — to float happily alongside roast pork, fish cakes, tofu, beef, shrimp or (my hands-down favorite) roast duck. Maybe with a splash of vinegar, soy sauce, chili oil or Sriracha. Or maybe a heavy-handed squirt of Sriracha. Maybe with some wontons floating around in there, although I believe that’s where this soup breaches Cantonese territory. Don’t worry, the two regions are friendly. And hold the shark, if you will.   

My soup noodle strategy involves little actual soup, interestingly enough. The broth clinging to the noodles, meat and vegetables will usually suffice. The day I found out sucking noodles down with noisy gusto is among the more polite soup practices in Asia was one of the happiest days of my life. Slurping straight out of the takeout container, well…manners aren’t everything. 

Step away from the sesame whatever and eschew soggy lo mein (especially if you don’t have access to the good stuff). Light, filling, hydrating, better for you than about 75% of the menu, and generously-portioned, “giant soup” is what’s for lunch.