Flour is the basis of most dishes in Shanxi and chefs here are known for their variously shaped noodles. The noodles get their unique names from how they’re made or the odd shapes the chef molds them into. The most common variety is la mian (拉面), which are hand-pulled noodles served up with a variety of sauces. Watching the chef pull and twist the lump of dough into long thin noodles is as entertaining as the noodles are tempting. There’s an assortment of thicker noodles cut from lumps of dough then boiled or stir-fried, these types include daoxiao mian (刀削面), which come in large flat pieces. Don’t be put off by cat’s ear noodles (māo ěrduō 猫耳朵), they’re called that because they’re shaped like cat’s ears.
Many roadside restaurants offer simple noodles with their own homemade sauce. A specialty in Wutai Shan is tai mo (台蘑), a mushroom dish can cost up to RMB 80 a plate. The fat, juicy mushrooms only grow in the area around Wutai Shan and are considered to have medicinal properties that help miscellaneous ailments like arthritis. Wanjuansu (万卷酥), a very delicate cookie, was an imperial favorite. Lotus flower beans make good snacks, beans are first boiled then deep fried until they turn into the shape of a lotus flower.
A good place to try out these tasty treats are at the morning and evening markets. There’s one at Jinjie Temple (jīnjiè sì 金界寺) at the top of Dailuo Ding (黛螺顶) and in Taihuai’s travel area’s parking lot.