100 Favorite Dishes: Dan dan noodles from Euclid Hall
Suffice it to say that I eat out more than the general population, unless, of course, the general population can catalogue more than 450 restaurant meals in a year -- which is about the number of breakfasts, lunches and dinners that I stomached in 2012. Pathetic, isn't it? But all those food dates are worth the gluttony, because it allows us to tell you where you should eat, a little favor that we started in late 2009, when we embarked on a culinary journey that took us through our favorite dishes in the Mile High City -- 100, to be exact. Now we're back with round three, counting down (in no particular order) 100 more of our favorite dishes in Denver (and Boulder). If there's something in particular that you think we need to try, reveal it in the comments section below, or shoot me an e-mail at email@example.com.
No. 78: Dan dan noodles from Euclid Hall
The first time I had dan dan noodles, or dan dan mian, was decades ago in San Francisco at a sticky Chinese noodle joint, the name of which I can't remember. But I can certainly recollect the vinegary, Sichuan pepper-laced broth in which the slippery noodles glistened, the strands stained scarlet from the sludge of the numbing chiles. The dan dan noodles at Euclid Hall are quite different from my first experience, but given that chef Jorel Pierce is the kind of guy who thinks -- and cooks -- outside the culinary monarchy, that doesn't surprise me. Nor was I surprised by how much I loved his take on what's typically a dish that doesn't dole out the unexpected.
Pierce's version is fiercely tied to the pig, the anatomy of which he breaks down in the basement kitchen of Euclid Hall. Crumbles of pork, char siu edged with an arch of seasoned fat and pork loin, all of which are the gift of a suckling Yorkshire pig, float in a salty, musky, pork-intensive broth swamped with udon noodles and fragrant with the scent of Sichuan peppers and housemade oyster sauce, which pigments the broth a deep amber. He adds a fistful of scallions, textures the dish with peanuts and pairs it with a little bowl of housemade hot sauce that gives the dish -- not that it needs it -- a shock of heat. Pierce has always a profound skill set when it comes to the pig, and in this dish, in particular, the swine shines. It's not the dish I had in San Francisco; it's much better.
Hungry for more? All the dishes in our 2013 countdown are linked below:
No. 90: Schezuan beef in numbing chile oil from Chef Liu's Authentic Chinese Cuisine
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