Xi'an Famous Foods Opening More Upscale Sit Down Branch on Main St. Flushing
Xi'an says this new branch will be ready to open within a month.
It is called Biang!, and located just south of the Starbucks at Main St and 41st Ave. Beautiful, simple interior, and a menu with English translations. The menu has some dishes from Xian Famous Foods, like the Liang Pi, and the lamb burgers, and some new things. Of particular interest is an apparent gesture to vegetarians, in that they are selling Seitan skewers, and some other vegetarian options. (At least, I think this is new...)
I expect this will become quite the hot spot, once people become aware of it.
The Buckwheat Pudding will become the best icebreaker in New York. The stool mates on my right and left each had a case of jaw drop when mine was served. And who wouldn't, besides a few Japanese in the know. An irregular grey soft ball, which no matter how it was intended to be eaten served as a greatly mild foil for the rest of my food.
The Lamb Face salad was even zippier than I've had in the branches, enough Szechuan peppercorns and garlic to power a fever dream. The quail was great. Next time on to the skewers.
Ate here yesterday afternoon. The decor was nice, minimalistic with lots of dark woods and stools. Service was for the most part ok, although we had to ask for plates a couple times. The staff spoke decent English, and of course, Mandarin Chinese.
Anyways, onto the food:
beef stomach skewers (ma la shuan niu du)- nice and soft, with a little bit of bite, not rubbery at all. These were served in a spicy sesame sauce. 3 to an order, I could've eaten the whole thing myself.
pork blood cubes (la zi suan zhu xue) - these small cubes were full of flavor, served in their ubiquitous sauce of chili oil, cilantro, garlic, black vinegar, and sichuan peppercorns. These blood cubes were diced quite fine, texture was a little firmer than, say, a dim sum version, but that was to be expected since this dish was served cold.
lamb burger (zī rán yáng ròu jiā bái jī mó) - great flavor, served on a shao bing (roasted bread). Slightly spicy, sort of like a pulled pork sandwich but kicked up 10 notches. The shao bing is the size of an English muffin. Of course, they taste completely different. My favorite dish of the meal.
pork burger (là zhī ròu jiā bái jī mó) - same as above but with pork instead of lamb. I didn't try this since I pick lamb over pork about 12 times out of 10. But I'm sure it was quite tasty.
oxtail (la zhi niu wei) - ok, here is where we went a little wrong. We ordered the oxtail appetizer and my friend ordered an oxtail noodle. We were thinking of a nicely soft textured meat. These were definitely not the case. The meat was very firm, braised in a soy sauce and IMO very salty. Very hard to use chopsticks to eat these oxtails. Basically we had to hold the bone between our fingers and gnaw away. I'm fine with that but just not what I was expecting at all.
yang rou pao mo - lamb soup with thin noodles and shao bing. The broth was full of cilantro and nicely flavored with lamb. The shao bing was broken up into little pieces and put into the bowl to soften up. Every version I had in China had the shao bing on the side and you would break it up and put it into the soup. I actually prefer the way they do it here because the shao bing absorbs liquid better than paper towels. Anyways, good flavor, and the shao bing was nice and soft, but not to the point of mushiness. I ate the whole thing with a spoon instead of chopsticks.
oxtail noodle (là zhī niú wĕi biáng biang miàn) - basically the above oxtail served with some pulled flat noodles. My friend ordered this, and said the noodles were good, but the oxtail just wasn't what he expected texturewise.
Things I want to try next time:
lamb salad (liáng bàn má là yáng tŭi ròu)
stir fried lamb noodles (zī rán yáng ròu biáng biang miàn)
quail (xī yù kăo xiáo niăo)
The biang biang mian all looked very good. The noodles stir fries IMO aren't as talked about as the noodle soups (even in China) and deserve more attention.
Went for late lunch yesterday (2 PM). Place was only 1/5 occupied. Had the following:
liáng pí 凉皮 $5 Wheat-based cold and chewy ribbon-like noodles, with seitan (wheat gluten) slices, blanched mung-bean sprouts, cucumber and cilantro; dressed with chili oil, soy sauce, and vinegar
ān chŭn dàn ròu cháng kăo mó piàn
Toasted slices of mantou (steamed bun), home-made spicy pork sausage, fried quail egg on top; three per order
The noodles were great but I wished they didn't serve it first. By the time they served the buns, my mouth was on fire and couldn't appreciate the subtle flavors of the quail egg. Even by itself, I think the spicy sausage would have overwhelmed the taste of the quail egg.