Man Food: Biang Biang Noodles at Gene’s Chinese Flatbread Cafe
It may look like it’s been there for years, but the new Gene’s Flatbread, based off the original location in Chelmsford, is a gem in every sense of the word. The walls are bare-bones and peeled, the ceilings are warped but there stands the owner, Gene, smiling wide behind the clear wall peering into the kitchen. A bunch of suits slurp and twirl their noodles with wooden chopsticks, some grab their food to-go while others trickle in to try and grab a precious spot. If you are able to snag a seat, it’s worth the price of admission just to watch them hand-pull noodles, extending the noodles arm-length with a vigorous circular motion, snapping them in and pulling them out like a giant jump rope.
Gene’s is cash-only, and a big bowl of hand-pulled noodles is ready in a hurry. The jagged noodles (called Biang Biang because they make a banging sound when they are being formed and slapped against the table) are irregularly cut and partially stick together as they join forces in the plastic bowl. Raw garlic coats the noodles with ease, which are accented with a thick, bitter chili paste and chili powder. It’s the perfect noodle and, consequently, the perfect noodle dish. It’s unabashedly pungent without any room to hide, making you want another bite before you’ve even finished the previous one.
Gene’s Flatbread is unassuming both inside and out—but each bite will knock you back and make you re-think what you knew about Chinese noodles.
86 Bedford St., Boston. Info: 617-482-1888, genescafe.com.