Jan 29, 2007
Love Me Tendon, Love Me Sweet. Beef Tendon Noodle Soup. Supreme Dragon Restaurant. Rowland Heights, CA.
Well done. Tendon.
A good piece of beef tendon is a thing of beauty. A perfectly braised piece of beef tendon has the power to make the world around me seem beautiful even when it’s falling apart. The texture of diligently and affectionately braised tendon is transcendental. Its mucilaginous coating and firm yet gelatinous bulk force my eyeballs upwards into an ecstatic examination of my eyelids. The soup that usually comes with beef tendon is thickened to an erotic degree by the intense collagen concentration in every bit of the tendon's flavorful fiber. This sticky and thick beef broth, spiked with soy sauce, anise, rock sugar, Shaoxing wine, gobs of garlic and ginger chunks, clings on the tendon like a spilt load of crude on sandy virgin shores.
I don't mean any of this in a Brokeback Mountain way.
Not that there's anything wrong with gay cowboys. (Okay, shutting up.)
After all, tendon is a uniter, not a divider. Quite literally. It’s a connective tissue. If you recall any of your Anatomy 101, tendon connects muscle to bone. But, I never took Anatomy, so in my world it connects my taste buddies to the part of my brain that hollers, “Yowsah! That was delish!”
Braised beef tendon is best when you dump a few hunks into a spicy, savory and fresh bowl of noodle soup. The thick, chewy ribbons of Chinese wheat flour noodles temper all of the huge flavors from the broth, tendon and bits of brisket.
However, even perfection in a bowl can get boring after several bites. Therefore, how does one perfect the perfect?
Just add mustard.
Not the yellow, squiggly, corn dog mustard, mind you. Not even the “Scoozay moi, would you happen to have any Grey Poupon?” kind. I’m talking about O.M., "original mustard" or mustard plant that has been preserved then chopped then stir-fried. This preserved mustard condiment is placed in tiny clear jars and can be found on every table at Supreme Dragon Restaurant in Rowland Heights. Many of the jars, however, were emptied of the "relish", and as fast as the waitstaff can refill the jars, they are once again emptied. This stuff is that popular. In fact, from my observations, it looked like most of the patrons in the Supreme Dragon ordered and ate the beef noodle soup simply as an excuse to ingest mass quantities of this addictive flavor booster.
This is a “relish” to relish.
The flavor change is dramatic. It’s as if my bowl of salty-spicy noodles sprouted robotic legs and popped out mechanized arms and then transformed itself through a series of tricky rotations and clever foldings into a sweet beefy dessert. It was like eating candy. In some gastro-molecular way, the mustard’s sweet-sourness caused the hidden sweetness in the beefy broth to really explode. (I need to ask Ferran how that works when I see him next.)
Quite a few tables, I noticed, had at least two jars of the seductive condiment. I briefly puzzled over this and quickly discovered why. One jar wasn’t enough. Mine was close to empty after I kept heaping on mound after mound into my bowl. So I reached over towards the next table to grab a full jar and got my hand slapped. (I didn't think the old lady was looking.) Then I turned to an unoccupied table and scored myself a full jar without incident. That jar too would soon empty.
Supreme Dragon Restaurant is indeed supreme in the beef tendon noodle soup department. With its exquisitely braised tendon whose texture is not so much slimy as it is sensuous and not so much dense as it is luscious, the eatery really does nail this special and scrumptious cut of cow. Given that I’ve indulged in my fair share of beef tendon noodle soups, I’d actually give the place the greater title of Grand Master Dragon or Grand Poo-Bah Dragon or tenth degree black belt of noodling dragon. Yes, this bowl of beef tendon noodle soup with generous helping of preserved mustard will knock you on your ass with its sensational flavors. But with an ass kicking this tasty, you’ll want to shout, “Please, sir, may I have another!”
Supreme Dragon Restaurant
18406 Colima Road, #E & F
Rowland Heights, CA 91748
Tel: 626.810.0396 or 626.810.0356