Originally from the birthplace of hand-pulled beef ramen, Lanzhou, Jessica Xiao, owner of Lan Ramen, wanted to bring authentic Chinese cuisine to Princeton. Her goal: to promote culture and educate patrons on the traditional tastes from her home. After a decade of planning and ten months of renovations, Lan Ramen opened this winter.
When asked about support from the community, Xiao noted that customers have embraced the delicious and fresh dishes, with some returning daily. The food is not the only factor keeping the “regulars”—it’s also the visible effort and love that has gone into the creation of the restaurant. Every detail—down to the handmade bowls from Seattle—was crafted to give customers a remarkable experience. The specially made bowls can handle incredibly high heat, ensuring that every last bite is ideal and appropriately hot.
The interior was designed to create an immersive dining experience. The counter and tables are made of reclaimed wood. Cast iron chandeliers hang and real brick walls are exposed, creating an industrial yet welcoming environment to complement the traditional dishes being served. The most important part of the design is the open kitchen. Customers seated at the counter have a full view of the chefs pulling the noodles fresh for each order. The chef arrives early every morning to prepare the large logs of dough that will be twisted and pulled. Almost magically, he turns each one into hundreds of noodles. At Lan Ramen, you won’t find anything frozen or pre-fried; the authentic flavors come from the dedication to creating fresh dishes for every customer. Witnessing the magic of hand-pulling adds to the unique experience when dining at Lan Ramen. Dining room guests are also encouraged to walk around to see what’s happening in the kitchen.
Using Their Noodles
Although Lanzhou is known for traditional beef noodles, the noodles at Lan Ramen are prepared in a variety of ways for all customers to enjoy. There’s beef brisket, chicken, seafood, and vegetarian, with new menu items regularly being added.
“The hand-pulled noodles we serve are made from scratch and come in five different sizes, from as thin as angel hair to as wide as a belt!” Says Xiao.
To start your meal, Jessica Xiao recommends the scallion pancake roll with beef, the soup dumplings, and the rock shrimp. Some fan favorites from the noodle section include Lanzhou beef noodle, Beijing Zha Jiang Mian as well as the scallion-ginger noodle for vegetarians. For entrees, she recommends trying the baby back ribs, the fiery lamb stew with wide noodles and the griddle cooked pot. And for veggie lovers, the baby lily bulb as well as the bean tops, refreshing greens sautéed with ginger and garlic.
In Lanzhou, people say the best bowl of ramen is the first of the day. Keeping with tradition, you can visit Lan Ramen seven days a week, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. at
4 Hulfish Street