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Monkey King Noodle Company makes hand-pulled noodle magic before your eyes


Hand-pulled ramen noodles set MKNC apart from the others

Hand-pulled ramen noodles set MKNC apart from the others

These porky, soup-filled dumplings are the best thing about Monkey King Noodle Company

These porky, soup-filled dumplings are the best thing about Monkey King Noodle Company

Monkey King's chili-glazed wontons

Monkey King’s chili-glazed wontons

The monkey king

The monkey king

A few months ago, Deep Ellum had no ramen. Now it has two ramen places, each making from-scratch ramen noodles in house. The favorite so far is Monkey King Noodle Company,  a noodle shop with a walk-up window, no inside seating and a line that stretches half-an-hour long down the sidewalk.

If you don’t have a job or you have a very lenient boss, MKNC is a reasonable place to grab lunch. If the weather isn’t particularly nice, maybe the line will be shorter. I wouldn’t bet on it. That’s because people can’t seem to get enough of the chewy, inexpensive ramen noodles that co-owner Andrew Chen pulls by hand on the other side of a big glass window that faces Main Street.

The noodles are thick and elastic with just enough heft to signal their artisan roots. Even better than Monkey King’s noodles, though, are the soup-filled pork dumplings, which a friend who has spent a great deal of time eating street food across big cities in China says are the real deal. I liked them, too. $8 for eight handmade purses of goodness. Good friends told me the soup dumplings and wontons in chile sauce ($6 for 10) tend to be a bit undercooked. They were right.

Still, I liked Monkey King and their small, focused menu of nine dishes (three of them vegetarian). On a warm, sunny day with lots of time to kill, standing in line for simple noodles and dumplings isn’t so bad. Better still: convince one of your friends or coworkers to go for you. Chinese food really is meant for delivery.

(You can read more about MKNC here, where Carol Shih does a nice job putting all the pieces together.)

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