I stumbled across them while searching for Noodles in Sheffield online and read that the New Era Development was being dubbed as the new Chinatown so I was pretty hopeful that there was going to be something in the area to excite.
A menu that I found online suggested good things and specifically a dish from Wuhan which I search for endlessly called Reganmian or Hot Dry Noodles. I got my own copy of that menu, picture below now and I am treasuring it as much as a playbill from a favourite play or program from a big football match. Ok Ok, I hear you! I will stop rambling and talk about the food that we found 🙂
There may not be that much on the menu, but what is on there is all stuff that I really wanted to eat. More often than not I would be straight onto the Noodle Soup and any other day I would have ordered a bowl of the Noodle Soup with either the Stewed Beef Brisket or the Braised Beef Shank.
Not today though, no I was here for those Wuhan Hot Dry Noodles. This is one of the dishes that I crave and struggle to find in the UK. I first ate them when I was working at the Chinese Academy of Science in Wuhan back in the late 90’s. We had them for breakfast almost every single day.
I last found a bowlful in 2014 when I was working in Shenzhen and a business associate who was from Wuhan took me to a Restaurant specialising in food from Hubei and the chef there made me a bowlful (read more here).
That was a happy day and I now I find myself 6 years later in Sheffield hoping that this was going to be a happy day too!
WUHAN HOT DRY NOODLES
The Wuhan Hot Dry noodles comes topped with a small pile of fried peanuts, pickled vegetables, and chopped scallion. The noodles themselves are on top of the sesame paste and the idea is that you mix them all together so that the paste and the noodles all get coated.
The basic taste is of that sesame paste and it is not unlike coating the noodles with some sort of peanut butter in terms of the way that it eats. The noodles stick to your mouth and probably to your hips as well as you suck them down with much gusto. There is no way to eat this dish neatly and the only way to enjoy it I find is to just go with it, grabbing strands of noodles with your chopsticks and shoving them into you mouth as fast as you can.
This bowlful here at PBZ was a lot neater than any I ever ate in China, but all the taste was there and it brought memories flooding back. I liked the pickled vegetables and I enjoyed showing off my chopstick skills as I picked up each peanut like a pro (well so I believed)
I was so happy that this place was here and I really do have a reason to return to Sheffield specifically to eat these noodles. Of course now I found them here I expect that I will start to find them everywhere.
DUMPLINGS (PORK AND CHIVE)
Even though that bowl of noodles was huge and more then enough to satisfy my hunger, my cravings and basically my soul, there was no good reason not to order a plate of dumplings as well. So we did getting the pork and chive filled ones.
These were excellent too, the filling was really good packed with flavour, the mix of pork mince and chopped chive was one of best I have had for ages. The dumpling casing was spot on too, soft to bite but also just thick enough to add a bit of chew. They were just as I recalled from the streetfood vendors I ate from in China. I suspect though that they may have come from the Asian supermarket upstairs, but I pushed such thoughts from my mind as I was eating them and was just living in the magic of the moment.
Basically I think it is clear that I loved this place and I hope that it will be here for a while. Often I find these small restaurants and then get sad when they move on or close down so I am crossing my fingers that I will get plenty of chances to come again
If I am honest I will probably always have a bowl of those Wuhan Hot Dry Noodles, at least until I find somewhere else where I can get some. I do though really want to try a bowlful of the Noodle Soup and probably need to try all of their hand made specials, so basically everything then. I really don’t see that I could risk missing out on one of their ‘Steamed Soup-filled Meat Buns‘ or more dumplings and certainly not a Steamed Bun filled with Pork or Chinese Leaves & Prawns.
Gosh even writing this some days after the event I just want to get back in the car and drive up the motorway to eat again. That is the power that the Wuhan Hot Dry Noodle holds over me
Anyway to find this place, head to Boston Street in the New Era Development, find the entrance to the Asian Supermarket, but don’t go inside. PBZ is one of the small cafes in the units outside in the courtyard area. It’s hard to spot but chuck in the postcode and you will be grand. Directions on their website
PBZ, Boston Street, Highfield, Sheffield, S2 4QF