Ru Yi Hand Pulled Noodle (Madison, WI)

Our next stop was a night in Minneapolis visiting with friends. Normally, if I was doing that driving route I’d usually try to stop at New Glarus Brewing, but when we passed through in June, they were still closed to the public due to the pandemic. To give ourselves a nice break from the drive, we decided to stop for lunch in Madison, Wisconsin, which has quite the selection of potential dining options. After looking at a few potential spots, we settled on Chinese, getting noodles from Ru Yi Hand Pulled Noodle on State Street.

If there’s a single phrase associated with Chinese cuisine that will get my immediate attention, it is “hand-pulled noodles”. From my earlier reviews of La Mian Hand-Pulled Noodles in Greenwich, UK, or NuDo in Montreal, I really enjoy the taste and texture of fresh, hand-pulled noodles, especially when paired with a good spicy broth and Chinese vegetables. Properly done noodles add a nice chewy texture that is both hearty and toothsome, and I was eager for both some good noodles, and some nice spicy food to offset some of our, umm, Midwest-calibrated travels.

Ru Yi is a pretty modest spot for State Street, with a small indoor seating area that, on our visit, was still reconfigured for Covid times: spaced out tables, a large area dedicated to takeout, and most of the dining tables relocated outside. Menu-wise, most of the menu is based upon, well, “noodles”, especially the hand-pulled noodles; you can see the staff pulling noodles in the kitchen as you order. Asking the staff, these are Langzhou-style La-Mian noodles (like those I had in Greenwich). They offer these noodles in two main styles, the first being the traditional style, with a five-spice tinged beef broth, the second in hot pot style, with a rich, peppery broth and a selection of vegetables.

The hand-pulled noodles aren’t the only game, either; they’ve also got sliced noodles, udon noodles, sweet potato noodles, and cold noodles, all available with a variety of proteins: beef, pork, chicken, shrimp, or assorted seafood.

The appetizer selection is good as well; while they’ve got a nice selection of egg rolls, bao buns, dumplings, and scallion pancakes, they had another of my favorite Chinese appetizers that always attracts my attention: soup dumplings (Xiaolongbao), those delicious little purses of rich broth surrounding a pork-and-chive filling. We got an order of these, and, served up with a little hot oil, these were exactly what I was hoping for: good broth, flavorful pork, and tender but intact dumpling wrappers. Probably the best soup dumplings I’ve had since Montreal.

But when it came to the main course, while I was really tempted by the clear broth version of the hand-pulled noodles, I really wanted a nice spicy broth that day, so I opted for the beef hot pot with the hand-pulled noodles. Served up as a very aromatic red peppery broth with a generous serving of noodles, the hot pot is then topped with fresh-sliced beef, bok choy, cabbage, bean curd skin, broccoli, enoki mushroom, potato, and sprouts; there’s really a lot of vegetables rounding out this. And the broth was just what I craved: rich, very spicy, and both chile pepper and sichuan pepper notes. Overall, an excellent hot pot.

Carol opted to do nearly the same order, but getting lamb instead, and the thin-sliced lamb actually worked a bit better with the hot pot, giving a slightly more gamey and sweet note that balanced out the spicy broth a bit better.

Overall, we really liked Ru Yi: if we lived around Madison, there’s a lot to explore on the menu. The food was flavorful, the prices good, and the waitstaff efficient and friendly. This is definitely a good spot for Madison.

(And with this review, Offbeat Eats has reviewed places in 32 US States!)

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply