Popular Chinese hand-pulled noodle stand Very Fresh Noodles has moved into a larger location inside Chelsea Market, taking over the prominent location of recently closed hummus purveyor Dizengoff and kicking off plans to expand even further across the city.
Owners Peter Tondreau and Victor Huang are about to expand the menu with the relocation, adding a variety of dumplings. Soon there will be pork and chive dumplings, shrimp and pork wontons, a pork bun, a vegan dumpling, and a dumpling inspired by the flavors of dan dan noodles.
The short list of existing noodles such as cumin lamb noodles, dan dan mian, and Taiwanese beef noodle soup is still available as well. The move has so far increased the restaurant’s business by 10 percent, the owners say. The new Chelsea Market stall has significantly expanded seating and already has lines down the hallway with fans of the noodle shop.
Once the new menu is set, Tondreau and Huang plan to secure a second location. They’ve been looking into the Financial District and Midtown to capture a similarly strong lunch crowd. Currently, Very Fresh Noodles serves about 800 to 900 people on weekends, and 500 to 600 on weekdays, the owners say.
The expansion has been a long time coming for the now two-and-a-half-year-old restaurant, which started in a 90-square-foot space inside the food hall. A year after opening, Times critic Ligaya Mishan wrote a favorable review of the dry and soup offerings. It’s been a popular option in the market since then, already growing its space once in its existence. Tondreau and Huang brought experience from Ippudo, Mission Chinese, Bar Suzette, and other restaurants around New York for the enterprise.
Very Fresh’s main offering of cumin lamb noodles is similar to local chain Xi’an Famous Food’s signature dish. But the menu at Very Fresh pulls from regions across China and outside of it, and doesn’t stick to tradition, Huang says. The beef noodle soup pulls from Taiwan, and dan dan noodles originated in Sichuan in southwest China. Xi’an Famous Foods, meanwhile, focuses on family recipes from Xi’an, the capital of the Shaanxi province in the northwest China.
But both fast-casual enterprises display the slapping and twisting of making hand-pulled noodles and have strong followings on social media. “I look up to Xi’an Famous Foods,” Huang says. “They have 13 locations and when I moved to New York, it was really cool to see that cuisine represented.”