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The Noodle Virtuoso
Sara Deseran | Photo: Maren Caruso | January 24, 2013
At M.Y. China, the head chef also happens to be one of the world's best noodle-pullers.
At M.Y. China, TV celeb Martin Yan’s ambitious new Westfield San Francisco Centre restaurant, the food is there to entertain as much as to be eaten: In the open kitchen, cooks wrangle flame-licked woks, and every so often a noodle puller steps out into the dining room, swinging a ribbon of dough with a skill that could parlay into rhythmic gymnastics—or a Burning Man show.
M.Y. China’s master noodle puller is Yong Dong Wu, but you can call him Tony. Originally hailing from Tian Jian, China, Chef Wu has 31 years of experience under his belt, 33 medals, and the prestigious honor of being the first chef to set a record of pulling 16,000 noodles in two minutes—something he’s happy to demonstrate blindfolded. How do you know a good noodle puller from a bad one? “Instead of strength, it’s about movement,” he says. "Sort of like golf.”
M.Y. China intends to make its restaurant a sort of boot camp for aspiring noodle pullers, among them Tom Edwards, a decidedly un-Chinese California Culinary Academy extern who has been training with Chef Wu. “The first, most difficult part is throwing the noodle up and down without hitting your face,” he says. “It’s all about getting the rhythm down.” Though you’d think this ancient art form would come with a do-not-try-this-at-home warning, apparently not. “My fiancée came back from work the other day,” Edwards says, “and she wanted to know why I’d moved the coffee table out of the living room.”
Originally published in the February 2013 issue of San Francisco Magazine