Kirbie's Cravings

101 Noodle Express

I’ve raved about the beef rolls at 101 Noodle Express but I’ve never actually done a complete post on the restaurant. We usually just order the beef rolls as take out but on my last few visits to the Irvine location, I was really tempted to sit down for a full meal because the menu has a diverse amount of dumpling and noodle soup offerings and the staff seemed really friendly.

We recently had to  attend a wedding and would be passing through Orange County and decided to stop at 101 Noodle Express for lunch.

The staff was as welcoming as I remembered and the lady taking our order was super friendly and fluent in English.

No stop would be complete without the famous beef rolls. The rolls here are huge, like burritos and at about $7 an order, it’s priced cheaper than many other competing restaurants who serve inferior rolls.

Thin slices of marinated beef, cilantro, are wrapped together with a savory chinese pancake. This alone is a meal in itself. At the table, they also have a cilantro jalapeno sauce which I highly recommend adding to the roll. It really enhances the flavor. For some reason the sauce is never included with take out orders. You have to specifically ask for them to give you a few containers.

They have quite a few steamed soup dumpling fillings. Usually the only ones I see on a menu are pork or crab. At 101 Noodle Express there was also fish, duck and a few others. I attempted to order duck but they were out. So I opted for the fish.

The dumplings arrived pretty as a picture. The skin wasn’t too thick and there was a lot of soup in the dumplings. I wasn’t so much a fan of the fish filling though. It had a slight chalkiness to it.

There is also a wide selection of dumpling fillings. I forgot to take a picture of the menu, but here is an excerpt I found of the Alhambra menu.  We finally chose the shrimp and pumpkin pan fried dumplings.

I love the golden pan crispy crust on the dumplings. I did find the filling to be too much pumpkin. I was wishing for something salty to balance the sweet and for more protein.

Spicy Beef Noodle Soup with Hand Torn noodles

The broth flavor was pretty weak once you got past the spice. Despite this place being named 101 Noodle Express, the noodles were too soft and a lot of the torn pieces were too broken for my liking.

Even though the service was pretty good, we found most of the dishes to be underwhelming. I think we’ll stick with take out orders of the beef rolls. I might come back to try some of the other dumpling flavors.

101 Noodle Express
multiple location in OC/LA
5408 Walnut Ave
Irvine, CA 92618
(949) 654-8542

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16 comments on “101 Noodle Express”

  1. The beef rolls look awesome – any recommendations on where to find good ones in the Bay Area? (That cilantro/jalapeno relish looks kinda like Indian cilantro chutney – altho I suppose that the spices are different…)

    • Unfortunately I haven’t done too much beef roll exploring in the Bay Area so I don’t know of a good one. =( The cilantro/jalapeno relish does kind of look like Indian cilantro chutney but they don’t taste alike.

  2. Haha the fish dumplings seem very interesting..I’ve never heard of fish or duck filling in dumplings before!

    • I’ve had fish in the regular boiled dumplings and it’s really yummy. I didn’t quite like it in the steamed soup dumpling version. I really wish they aren’t out of duck that day!

  3. I call beef rolls Chinese burritos. I <3 Chinese burritos 😉

  4. Dang it – WHYYYY can’t SD have something like this? I don’t even know where to go at this point for XLB or beef rolls in SD. Everything here just seems so overpriced and terrible 🙁 Any suggestions on where to go here in SD if i just HAD to have my XLB fix?

    • Beef rolls I like the ones at Liang’s. XLB, I really have absolutely no suggestion for SD. They all are bad or taste like they just made me frozen ones from Ranch 99.I guess if you really really must get it in SD, I would go with Chin’s Miramar.

  5. I had beef rolls for the first time at the SD Mama Liang’s, and thought they were pretty good. I think you thought they were so-so, and now I really need to go to 101 Noodle Express! I’ll stick with the beef rolls and dumplings.

    • I actually like the ones at Mama Liang’s too. It’s one of the few outside of 101 that I like, but the 101 Noodle Express ones are better and my absolute favorite. Also I don’t like that Liang’s keeps raising the price on theirs. Definitely go to 101!

  6. I think most dumpling places pale in comparison to DSW at sgv..:X

    • I like the dumplings at DSW, but they lack variety of fillings so it’s nice to explore other places that offer more fillings.

  7. Shrimp and pumpkin sounds like a weird combination… at least it wasn’t too much pumpkin! The bottoms looks perfectly golden and crispy – my favorite. I need a list of some places to visit when we go up to LA in June, so I’m going to put this on my list!

    • They use a Japanese squash which is in the pumpkin family so it’s not too bizarre, but it was a little too sweet for my liking. Definitely check out beef rolls at 101 Noodle on your next trip. They have several locations so I’m sure you can find one that fits your itinerary. And get the green cilantro sauce with it!

  8. Hey Kirbie – When I take friends to the on food crawls, I always tell them to have only one piece of the Niu Rou Chuan from 101. Unfortunately, that never works and tends to torpedo the rest of the trip….so I now take them there last. BTW, did you notice if this location had Dezhou Pa Ji?

    • Hi Kirk- Sorry I did not notice if they have Dezhou Pa Ji. And being the bad blogger I was that day, I didn’t take pics of the menu for reference. Going last on a food crawl is a good idea. It’s hard to just have one piece!

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