Orders are placed with a guy standing by a hole in the poppy-colored wall of a tiny restaurant that you could say is, well, a hole in the wall. You might also describe this eccentric operation, which opened last spring near campus, as the best ethnic restaurant in its neighborhood. Whatever you call the eatery, though, is probably better than the name it gave to itself: Chinese Beef Noodle Soup.

Orders are placed with a guy standing by a hole in the poppy-colored wall of a tiny restaurant that you could say is, well, a hole in the wall. You might also describe this eccentric operation, which opened last spring near campus, as the best ethnic restaurant in its neighborhood. Whatever you call the eatery, though, is probably better than the name it gave to itself: Chinese Beef Noodle Soup.

Entering Chinese Beef Noodle Soup, you'll immediately see that literal hole in the wall. It's the backdrop for a little counter, and it separates a bustling kitchen from a dining room that holds maybe 25 people. You'll also see a humble but cheery, brightly painted space with a station for DIY water, chopsticks and plastic cutlery.

If the only English menu in sight is the abridged version above the counter, and you can't read Chinese characters, ask for a paper printout with blunt English translations of all 60 or so items. If a printout isn't available — they're often pocketed by countless to-go and for-delivery patrons — default to this place's name.

Because a restaurant named after a particular dish ought to be proficient in preparing that dish, and this place definitely is. Several iterations of the comforting soup that originated in the northern Chinese province of Lanzhou are offered (“Lan Zhou Noodles” appears on the receipts). Most feature a bowl holding a mountain of wonderfully toothsome, springy and super-long handmade wavy wheat noodles plus hefty pieces of roast beef-like meat in a delicious homemade broth scented with five-spice powder.

Ordering the Beef Stew Noodle Soup ($9.25) also brings bok choy and half a hard-cooked egg. It's great, especially this time of year. Looking to warm up even more? I loved the far-from-fiery Spiced Beef Noodle Soup ($9.25), which is essentially the same soulful soup with the addition of sesame seeds, chili oil and greens instead of bok choy.

But man and woman cannot live on beef noodle soup alone, right? For a beef-free and wheat-free dish, you can get “noodles” made from carrots, tofu skin, cucumbers and slippery kelp in the pleasantly salty Mixed Three Cold Vegetables ($5.95) — a refreshing cold salad spiked with vinegar and chili oil. Mixed Smashed Cucumber ($4.95) is another perky and salty salad livened by a touch of chili; imitation crab contributes heft and subtly sweet counterpoints.

I was told the Pork and Leek Dumplings ($9.50) are handmade, and they certainly taste like it. A whopping 18 thick-ish yet supple and delicious dumplings come per order.

I was likewise informed that, rather than Lanzhou, the restaurant owners come from the northern province of Shandong. So I ordered a dish popular throughout China — as is Lanzhou-style beef noodle soup — that famously originated in Shandong. This common and beloved meal, which is ubiquitous in Korea too, is sold here by alluding to its Korean name: Jajangmye ($8.95).

What you'll get is handmade noodles and chopped pork in an unctuous and addictive, perfectly salty and umami-boosting, soybean paste-based sauce with dropped egg. Fresh cucumbers provide contrast to the rich and meaty preparation, which is at least as good as the signature soups.

Other curious spellings dot the large menu, which is hardly a straightforward document anyway. But by focusing on the northern China-created favorites peppering the noodle and appetizer sections, I found it continuously rewarding.

Such “appetizers” include Rougamo ($5.99), a delightful pork sandwich in a puffy bun (elsewhere known as a “Chinese burger”), and also a quartet of lovely, if somewhat oily, fried glutinous-rice-and-pumpkin cakes crusted with sugar. Chinese Beef Noodle Soup calls the latter, actually a dessert, “Pumpking Cake” ($4.99) — but what's in a name?