Food Stuffs is a column exploring the gastronomic landscape of Bensonhurst and the surrounding neighborhoods. Each entry will cover anything and everything even remotely related to food because here in Bensonhurst, food is always news.
Despite the nondescript pink sign and literal name, Hand Pull Noodle & Dumpling House, located in the heart of Bensonhurst (7201 18th Avenue), is worth a visit. Hand-pulled noodles are exactly what they sound like – they are made by stretching and folding dough into long strands until they are the desired thickness. Part of the experience is watching the chef stretch and pull the noodles by hand before tossing them into boiling water. Hand Pull Noodle is small enough that you pretty much get a front row view of the kitchen no matter where you sit.
The ambiance can only be described as chaotic. There are two birds squawking in a cage near the window, there’s the obligatory exotic fish in a too-small tank near the kitchen, and a chubby 4-year-old child seems to run the family-owned restaurant, barking orders at the kitchen and wait staff. But all that lends Hand Pull Noodle its charm.
I figured dumplings were going to taste the same everywhere, so I went with my colleague Ned’s suggestion, and ordered the scallion pancake with beef as an appetizer ($3.50). They were perfect: crispy and flavorful on the outside, and juicy on the inside.
Choosing a main course was trickier. Hand Pull Noodle offers about 70 variations of noodles with seafood, various cuts of beef, duck, pork, and lamb — and every combination in between. I ended up going with the beef stew ($5.95), which came in a generous bowl and looked gorgeous swirled with florescent green bok choy. The chunks of meat were slightly chewy, with a sweet, subtle, barbecue flavor. The broth was mild and light, tasting overwhelmingly of scallion – nothing a little Sriracha couldn’t fix. The texture of the noodles was on the doughier side, but they were long and delicious.
In the end, my bill came out to just over $10. I wanted to try the steamed buns ($4.75), but the noodles were a bit of a carb overload for me and about halfway through the meal, I was feeling a little woozy. Oh, well, next time. I also would like to try one of the restaurant’s heartier combinations, such as the #3, which includes beef, beef tendon, beef tripe, pork chop, and egg for $6.75.
Pro tip: Hand Pull Noodle also offers a dumpling “happy hour,” between 4pm and 6pm, when you can order eight dumplings for $2.99 – a $4.50 value!