Thursday, June 7, 2018

Stretch the Noodle

Stretch the Noodle is located near SW 3rd and Washington in downtown Portland, Oregon.

Duane and Xuemei (husband and wife) opened this cart around May 2017 and quickly earned rave reviews for hand-pulled noodles. Just a word of wisdom here, make sure Xuemei is in the cart making the noodles. When she went home to China briefly in January 2018, Duane apparently ran the cart solo using packaged upon. While the flavors would remain the same, there's simply no substitute for fresh noodles.

The menu is very simple, with a beef Sichuan noodle soup dish, two stir-fried noodle options, and Jian Bing, a savory Chinese crepe with egg, veggies, fried wonton, and optional meat. Any noodle dish can be made mild, medium, or spicy.

I got #3 (stir-fried hand-pulled noodles with veggies and chicken), spicy. While I had read comments on how generous the portions were, even I was stunned by how much food I received. It could easily feed two hungry adults (assuming no insane competitive-eater appetites).

The noodles, as noted above, were made to order, and are finished with the veggies and chicken in a few minutes. It was an awesome show seeing Xuemei make the noodles right in front of me. As the cart name implies, the noodles are stretched into long strands around her hands. The irregular shapes are what I look for here. No matter how thick or thin the noodle I got, it was a perfect chew each time.

Tons of veggies, which include mushrooms, carrots, onions, ginger, and cabbage. The carrots, onion, and cabbage retained a wonderful crunch. As for the spice, it was an oil/mash combo clearly noticeable on spice level but packing amazing flavor.

There is a small seating area to the right of the cart if you're facing it. I missed that the first time, and I was content with eating my food behind the cart, but Duane kindly showed me to the seating area, where I continued to feast.

I highly recommend getting to this cart before the main lunch rush if possible. This cart's popularity keeps them ridiculously slammed from at least 12 to 1 PM. I arrived here at around 11 AM on a sunny Saturday, and there was no line. I'm sure if there have been any negative comments, a few may involve some long wait times. Also, Jian Bing is an ideal breakfast/brunch option, so keep that in mind.

Stretch the Noodle is one of the very few carts to hit the superfecta with me: large portions, crazy cheap prices (for the amount of food received), proper spicy options, and great service.

Portland has been blessed with incredible hand-pulled noodle options. This is my favorite one to date. 9.5/10

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