The Early Word -- Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodle Inc.

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The prodigal peel noodles at Tasty Hand-Pulled (click to enlarge)

There are at least ten joints in greater Manhattan Chinatown that specialize in Lanzhou hand-pulled noodles. The latest entree in the sweepstakes is Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodle Inc. (note the fussy punctuation), on Doyers in the oldest part of Chinatown. If you've read Luc Sante's Low Life, you know that this short curving street is where the hatchet gangs of the late 19th century -- the forerunners of modern tongs -- stalked their prey, and then escaped through a secret passage to Mott Street.

The small dining room is more comfortable than the early Lanzhou slingers, and there's a waitress who speaks good English. While not on the menu, the rarely seen peel noodles are also offered (here called "knife peel noodles"), in common with Sheng Wang on Eldridge Street. The peel noodles are advertised in the window.

Whether you order hand-pulled noodles or peel noodles, there's a choice of many add-ins, and the bowl shown above demonstrates what a great collection of ingredients lands in the completed bowl, including pickled mutton, mustard greens, baby bok choy, baby spinach, and an optional fried egg. For four or five dollars, it's a complete meal. 1 Doyers Street, 212-791-1817

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Watch out for the hatchet gangs!

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