Get the lowdown on the next great carb.
mixian noodles
This isn't the flat rice noodle you might be familiar with — this one is shaped like spaghetti!
| Credit: Photography by Afra Lu

Coming soon to a soup shop near you: mixian! The spaghetti-shaped rice noodle with a silky texture and a gentle nutty flavor has been a mainstay in China's Yunnan Province for decades. But now it's trending stateside, particularly in New York City. 

At Little Tong Noodle Shop, Simone Tong—the Chinese-born chef who cut her teeth in heavyweight kitchens like Wylie Dufresne's WD-50—shows off mixian in four freewheeling preparations. Her much-beloved bowls, including Grandma Chicken ($15) and Banna Shrimp ($15), immerse the noodles in broths with juicy meat and fresh herbs, garnished with edible flowers. 

"It's very difficult to find fresh mixian outside of China," says Tong, who grew up there in Sichuan Province. So she had to opt for imported dried noodles. Tong tested 25 varieties before finding one that lived up to the mixian she had while traveling in Yunnan. 

Mixian is also showcased at recent downtown spots like the Rice Noodle (646-649-3906), a counter-service operation from Yunnan native Yao Tang. There, the noodles act as a base for seven bowls, including a zesty lamb zapped with minced ginger and cilantro. At the nearby Deng Ji II Noodle House (917-475-1082), traditional hot pots come laced with the tender noodles and a delicious mess of add-ins (wood ear mushrooms, baby bok choy).

little pot mixian dish
Little Pot Mixian with pork from Little Tong Noodle Shop in New York City
| Credit: Photography by Afra Lu

Why the sudden mixian madness? Tong credits—what else?—Instagram. 

"There's an urge to discover what isn't yet in the mainstream, and social media has really allowed lesser-known cuisines, like Yunnanese, to rise," she says. "It's a really exciting time for regional Chinese cuisines on the American restaurant scene." So start exploring!