Chef Xiaofei Zuo has been dazzling people with his mesmerizing noodle pulling technique, and it’s about to be your turn
BY Noah Cote and Ally Sigurdson
The bubbling blurps of a gallon pot steams stovetop inside the kitchen of Pembina Highway’s Dancing Noodle restaurant, where just across the room Xiaofei Zuo rakes his stainless-steel scraper over the surface of his noodle-pulling station the same way he does every morning for hours before the restaurant opens.
Zuo’s noodles must be fresh to serve.
“Each customer gets their own noodle,” says Zuo. “It takes longer, but it tastes better this way.”
He sprinkles his surface with a baking flour to make sure nothing sticks. He pulls an arm-sized lump of raw dough from its bag and thwomps it down to create an even chunk. A smile flashes across his face as he kneads and plays with it, stretching and spinning it over and over. In just 10 days he’ll teach his noodle-knowledge to attendees at Red River College’s Culinary Workshop, aptly titled, “Noodle Pulling Workshop 1: Dough.”
“I’m very excited,” says Zuo. “People are very interested in my dough. Now people can learn for real.”
Originally from China, Zuo moved to Winnipeg in 2011 and went on to graduate from Red River College’s Baking and Patisserie program. In 2015, he opened Dancing Noodle and later offered his cuisine at a small kiosk in the Forks Market.
Zuo says his venture into teaching at RRC’s Culinary Workshop is a first for him. While he continues to weave dough into smaller, thinner and more delicious strips of dough, stopping periodically to spritz his piece with vegetable oil, he impresses that there are a few things he wants people to take away beside his masterful technique.
“The soup is very important!” Zuo says with a laugh. “People need to know four things, always, the noodles are yellow, the broth is white, the sauce is red and the cilantro is green – that’s how you know it’s perfect.”
The workshop will come in three parts: the first is a demonstration, the second is an introduction to dough-making and the third is a lesson on the Chinese technique of Lamian, also known as the noodle pull. People interested in attending can sign up on the Red River College website for the dough workshop on May 9, and the pulling workshop on May 29.
If you decide to eat at the Dancing Noodle anytime soon, Zuo will be happy to show you his latest dish, a special noodle bowl with broth and egg that he’s yet to name. To Zuo, every dish is special because each one is put to his own taste-test scrutiny.
“I prefer quality over quantity,” says Zuo. “Some restaurants have a hundred items, a million different flavours, here we have fewer because I make sure every dish tastes perfect before I’ll put it on the menu.”
For more information on RRC’s Culinary Workshops, you can visit their website at: https://me.rrc.mb.ca/catalogue/CourseDescriptions.aspx?ProgCode=CULNP-NA&RegionCode=WPG#WRKS-9125