Three Fold, in Little Rock Arkansas, serves slow food fast. The kitchen prepares every item on the menu by hand from the tri-folded dumplings, the house-made pulled noodles, to the steamed buns. Even the herbs are washed and cut by hand. Everything served at Three Fold is authentic and made in the Chinese tradition. The restaurant’s mission is to provide the freshest food to diners every day, and they succeed with every patron served.
Location: Three Fold is located at 611 South Main Street Little Rock, Arkansas.
Menu: The simple menu consists of a few types of noodle bowls that include pickled veggies, cilantro, sesame-based sauce, and your choice of protein (chicken, pork, or tofu). In addition, you can get your noodles with broth and a tea scented, hard-boiled egg (ramen style). They have Shui Jiao (dumplings) with choice of protein and dunking sauce ranging from non-spicy all the way to poison.
Along with the noodles and dumplings, they have steamed buns (Mo) served sandwich style with pickled veggies, greens, pepper sauce, and choice of protein. If you want a sampling of everything, they serve a trifecta: a bowl of boiled dumplings, house-made noodles tossed in a sesame butter-based sauce, and a house-made Mo layered with chicken, pork or tofu and fresh greens. Three Fold makes hand-cut taro chips that are utterly addictive and simple slaws like carrot, cabbage, and cucumbers.
Thoughts: The dining room gleamed. It was uncluttered and clean with white subway tiled walls and stainless steel tables. There are no decorations on the pristine walls except for the glass menu that lists all the options in black print. The list, posted along the line where you place your order is uncomplicated.
The restaurant is busy, especially at lunch. There is a constant stream of people, but the dining room is large, and there are plenty of tables both inside and out. I followed the lead of the couple in front of me and got behind them as we moved alongside the menu.
The open kitchen reveals the artistry of the cuisine. Everyone seated inside can watch as the dumplings form into three folds, and the noodles (pulled by hand) come out in silky strands. As we got closer to the register, I read the choices and found it challenging to make a selection. Next, it was my turn to order. I couldn’t decide if I wanted a bowl or if I wanted dumplings. If I wished to order dumplings, did I want them pan-fried or steamed? When I mentioned this to the cashier, he said that I could have both.
The restaurant offers a “Half & Half,” which is two half-sized portions of noodles and dumplings with a choice of protein in one bowl. This option made me completely happy as I didn’t have to decide on one or the other. Within minutes, piping hot food arrived in a white enamel bowl placed on top of a grey metal tray. It felt a little futuristic eating in a clean space with food swiftly delivered to your table, but then I tasted the depth of flavor from the sesame broth and the tender bite of the freshest dumplings I have ever devoured. Traditional Chinese cuisine hand-crafted for my meal.
It was the best of both worlds – I got to slurp the tender noodles topped with chicken after dousing them with the spicy sauce served alongside my meal. Then, I got to cut into the pillowy soft Shui Jiao stuffed with pork. It was indeed the best of both worlds and completely satisfying. Even though there aren’t many meal choices, the combinations provide enough variety that you could return several times to try them all. After you finish, you can start all over again.
Price Range: The Half & Half is $13.50. Noodle Bowls, Dumpling Bowls, and Steamed Buns are around $10. Sides including slaws and chips are $2.50.