In Lanzhou, Gansu province, the day, for many locals, begins with a hot, steaming bowl of beef noodles. A traditional bowl must have the following ingredients and colors, in addition to beef: white radish, red chili oil, green coriander and leek, yellow noodles.
According to a Northwest Minzu University report, there are more than 1,600 shops selling Lanzhou beef noodles in the city. But, despite the large number, some would-be customers find it difficult to get a table, such is the demand to sample the bowl of delight. They usually place their bowls on a chair and sit on something lower, soaking in the bustling atmosphere of a beloved morning ritual.
Lanzhou beef noodles have become a staple food item nationally, from its humble and rugged origins in small workshops to evolving as a specialty in fashionable restaurants and gaining its appeal among overseas Chinese.
A legislative research project of the Gansu Provincial People's Congress Standing Committee for 2023 included studying "regulations on the development of the Lanzhou beef noodle industry". Since then there's been heated discussion online on such topics as "why does a bowl of noodles need legislation and will all Lanzhou noodles taste the same".
A regulation, proposed by the Office of the Gansu Provincial Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, points out that the province has yet to establish a "comparatively unified quality, technology and standards system" for the beef noodles. Additionally, the production, processing and operation lack proper legal protection.
Zhao Xiaolong, secretary general of the Lanzhou Beef Noodle Industry Association, says the upcoming regulation will aim to promote the development of the industry.
"It doesn't only stipulate regulation on the taste of a bowl of noodles. It also aims to establish legislation in the area of industry development," Zhao says.