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It isn’t known if Marco Polo stole the secrets of noodle making from China when he traveled the Silk Road, but in Taiyuan, Shanxi, China, during the first week of September of every year, it no longer matters. Chinese noodle makers have been plying their trade for 2,700 years, and at the Shanxi International Noodle Cultural Festival they show off their skills and invite noodle chefs from around the world to do the same.
Besides the wonderful food, noodle chefs in Shanxi are great performers as well. The best noodle restaurants in Taiyuan are willing to give anyone that spends enough money a show, but the first week of September is when they truly shine.
Want to learn more about China’s most delicious noodle festival? Keep reading below.
The Noodle Festival, as the locals call it, is held in restaurants all over the city, as well as along the streets in the city’s center. But most of the focus is on Yingze Park, the huge park in the middle of the city where vendors line the paths giving noodle demonstrations, or on Shi Ping Jie (Food Street), a cramped and colorful alley full of restaurants hawking noodles and other local fare.
Perhaps the best part of the Shanxi Noodle festival is trying the region’s special noodle dishes. Shanxi’s most famous noodle specialty, Dao Xiao Mian (Knife Shaved Noodles) has a very unique history. It is said that during the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368), people were not allowed to own knives. Ten families would share control of a single knife, and if someone wanted to use it they had to wait their turn. One hungry father, tired of waiting for his dinner, grabbed a thin piece of iron and just started shaving away. Shanxi cooks have been using that method ever since.
Yingze Hotel, one of the better hotels in the city, is located directly between the park and the street that the festival is focused on and enjoys the reputation of having a wonderful noodle restaurant attached as well. Taiyuan has a number of ancient parks and temples, so there are plenty places to visit while waiting for the noodles to digest.
Think you know Chinese food? Think again. Shanxi’s unique noodle festival will surprise and delight food-lovers everywhere. This year’s festival will be held September 10-12.