i thought of adding a new feature to my write ups this morning while i was (again) meandering the streets of downtown manila. while swimming in humidity and weaving in and out of nasty dark alleys and overcrowded sidewalks, i thought of taking a break and treat myself to some good old comfort food. i am still in quite a celebratory mood after getting out of my funk, and thought what would make this day even better was a nice hot bowl of noodles. contrary to what people may think, not all chinese people are sick of eating chinese food, noodles most especially.
though i wouldn't mind having a nice piece of steak or even a burger (try the aloha burger of jollibee!!!), nothing still can compare with the emotions elicited by a hot bowl of la mien. since i was already at alonzo (downtown manila's hardware capital), might as well go to ling nam and have their (in)famous beef noodles. to those of you who are not in the know of noodle history in the country, ling nam would be one of two places to go to to sample good old fashion mami, just the way it was served when them golden strands first appeared on these city streets back during the day. ling nam is a bit more modern now with branches in greenhills and in some of the larger malls but this shop along alonzo is station 1, ground zero, the place where it all began.
entering through its doors feels like being transported back to the 50's, very retro if i may say so myself. old world charm surrounds you, from the furniture to the tiled walls. apart from the nostalgia of times forgotten, u also find urself stewing in hot soup fumes and steaming buns since the kitchen is right out in the open.
i always order the same stuff whenever i am there, just like almost every patron that comes to ling nam, which is probably what made it last this long, the recipe never changes. i got me a bowl of beef noodles, 2 siomai's and lotus buns (to take home for mom). the noodles taste exactly the same and just the way i like it, light and fine. the beef soup was highly flavorful with the aftertaste of anise seed and the siomai, well, was expensive (P25 per piece) but almost velvety in texture. the lotus buns, to put it simply is a hybrid of the siopao and the moon cake. steamed white bun with lotus paste and a yolk as the filling, sweet and salty at the same time. perfect when eaten with the beef soup base in my opinion.
anyway... as far as chinatown noodles go, ling nam is WAY up my roster. its longevity in the food biz is tetstament to the fact that consistency is important. i have an uncle who comes from the province just to buy LOADS of siomai, some frozen just that he has some to steam at home. of course, this is not something that only ling nam possess here in chinatown, there is also the equally historic masuki, as well as panciteria lido, but that's for another day and another blog :)