Sanshi Noodle House spotlights Yunnanese crossing-the-bridge noodles

There are 18 different furiously bubbling soups here

Sanshi Noodle House spotlights Yunnanese crossing-the-bridge noodles
photo by Rob Bartlett

If you're unfamiliar with Crossing-the-Bridge noodles, the fable behind this unusually named dish from Yunnan Province goes something like this: A caring wife crossed a bridge to bring her scholar of a husband some noodle soup. But by the time she reached her husband's place of study, the soup was cold and the noodles soggy. So, she fought the laws of thermodynamics and flaccidity by bringing him the soup components separately — a pot of boiling-hot broth slicked in oil in one hand, and a container of noodles and fixin's in the other. On arrival, the ingredients were quickly tossed into the broth and a lovely meal was had. As my friend likes to say, "happy husband, happy life." No, that's not right. It's "happy husband, happy wife." Or something like that.

Anyway, Sanshi Noodle House is the first restaurant in town to specialize in this most Yunnanese of foods, presenting a variety of broths into which proteins, rice noodles and veggies are dunked. There are 18 different noodle soups offered here, but two are spotlighted on Sanshi's menu — the fish maw chicken soup ($16.99) and the spicy beef ($16.99) — so we got them both.

First to arrive were the broths, which sit inside a scorching hot vessel. What struck me is that the broths weren't belligerently gurgling, yet the moment we added a chicken leg into the fish maw chicken broth, and some beef slices into the spicy beef broth, liquid violence ensued. I made a feigned attempt to coat the beef in the quail egg — one of the nine sides that come with every order — but our server was having none of it. "Hurry! Hurry!" she urged. The pressure was on to toss the remainder of the items into the broth as quickly as possible — among them black fungus, wood ear mushroom, king oyster mushroom, ham, corn kernels, dry tofu skin, scallions and little bits of fish. Last in were the pre-blanched rice noodles and after a quick, 10-second stir, the soup was ready to be consumed.

And consume we did.

The collagen-rich fish maw (or swim bladder) added richness to an already rich chicken broth, but imparted no taste. Cutting into that chicken leg required a fair bit of dexterous maneuvering. The rice noodles aren't made in-house but are imported from Yunnan, said the servers who, despite the language barrier, are eager to answer questions. The beef broth was properly beefy without a hint of artificiality, though it wasn't particularly spicy. For heat, we went with the pickled pepper soup ($16.99) comprising a beef broth that was at once bold, beefy and tangy. The selection has a two-pepper designation on the menu and, for me, the broth contained the right amount of heat. Like the others, it also came with thinly shaved slices of beef and a variety of dunking ingredients.

click to enlarge Sanshi Noodle House spotlights Yunnanese crossing-the-bridge noodles
photo by Rob Bartlett

In fact, all three broths were gratifying, but Sanshi isn't just about the slurps. Before the soups, we enjoyed a bracing smashed cucumber salad ($8.99) along with some skewers of meat — grilled slices of fatty beef wrapped around enoki mushrooms ($7.99 for two) and succulent "New Orleans" chicken skewers ($6.99 for two). If you're wondering about the Cajun nod in the latter, I'm in the same boat. For what it's worth, Sanshi's outpost in Centereach, New York, also serves the skewers, and so did their location in Manhattan's East Village before it shuttered last summer.

Popcorn chicken, fried sausage, fried fish balls and whole grilled squid are also offered but, let's be honest, it's the rice noodle soups that are the real draw. So, as to which broth to sample on my next visit — spicy mala, tomato, pork bone, mushroom or plain ol' chicken — well, I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Location Details

Sanshi Noodle House

5600 W. Colonial Drive, Orlando West


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About The Author

Faiyaz Kara

Orlando Weekly restaurant critic since 2006.
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