Xibu Manfu Lou serves up deliciously authentic Gansu-style noodles right here in Suzhou.
Sometimes a meal can transport you back to a specific time and place and the Western China-style noodles at Xibu Manfu Lou (西部满福楼) bring us straight back to our adventures in Gansu. But the best part is Xibu Manfu Lou is located right here on Suzhou’s Xietang Old Street.
We dived straight into an aromatic bowl of Lanzhou beef noodles (兰州牛肉面, RMB32). Garnished with chili oil and fresh coriander, the tender beef became softer the longer it lingered in the broth, while the handmade noodles could easily pass for those we’d wolfed down on the streets of Lanzhou. Served as part of a set meal, the noodles came with some wonderfully zingy pickled vegetables and a spicy marinated egg, which were nice accompaniments to the dish.
The Lanzhou fried noodles (兰州炒面, RMB28) were doused in a rich tomato sauce and topped with crunchy garlic shoots, sweet red onions and soft beef. Again, eating them reminded us of Gansu’s delicious dry noodles.
The accompanying broth was delightful in its own right, the perfect palate cleanser to its mild spiciness. (Those with a higher spice tolerance also have the option to have the heat levels dialed up.) The tender lamb skewers (RMB15) were small but mighty, and packed a punch with the abundance of cumin. In contrast, the minced lamb pie (羊肉薄饼, RMB88) was epically huge. This massive savory meat pie with its fiery fillings is best chased down with a cold bottle of Lanzhou’s Huang He beer (RMB15).
Housed in one of Xietang Old Street’s historic Tang-style wooden buildings, Xibu Manfu Lou is an attractive place for a casual bite. The open kitchen allows you to watch the chefs in action, while the friendly staff are always willing to help with navigating the menu, which is only in Chinese characters and pinyin, and accompanied by photos.