House of Xian Dumpling (in old Chef Jia space) [Chinatown, San Francisco]
House of Xian Dumpling opened recently in the former Chef Jia space on Kearny and is in what must be considered in a "soft opening" phase, as some sections of its colorfully printed menu aren't being offered yet. Its menu is very wide-ranging, including Xi'an, Beijing, Shanghai, Shandong, Sichuan (and even some Cantonese) items that I could make out. I specifically asked about some Shanghai-style dim sum items and about skewers, none of which are yet available. They are up and running with noodles and dumplings (jiaozi) and I enjoyed a well-made beef tendon noodle soup which I blogged about if anyone is interested. I scanned the entire menu and posted it in a set on Flickr though, as I mentioned, not all of it is being offered as of yet.
House of Xian Dumpling
925 Kearny St.
Nice find! Got takeout from here last night and I was pleasantly surprised. Not a lot of dishes that struck me as particularly Xian-ese, but a lot of clean, well-executed renditions of some small dishes and dumplings. Standouts were the beef tendon, which had a pleasant chewy bite and addictive ma la sauce, the lotus root salad, which had a nice crunch and acidity, and the spicy dumplings, which actually disappeared before I had a chance to snag one.
One comment is that, other than the soup noodles, the portions were bizarrely tiny. I actually don't mind this, as I feel the dishes were executed thoughtfully and with a surprisingly delicate touch for such typically hearty fare. But I ordered 10 dishes (many of them small plates) and it was just enough for four normal adult eaters.
Dumplings were well-made...juicy and with nicely-textured wrappers, but about half the size of dumplings that I usually get at Beijing Restaurant or the San Mateo places. Soup noodles were generously portioned, and the broth was beefy and nicely spiced (and also not too oily, a plus). The noodles didn't stand up well to takeout (even though they packed them separately)...they seemed overcooked, so I would need to eat in to give an accurate assessment of those.
All in all, I would happily get takeout from here again. Especially the lotus root, which I have not seen anywhere else.
They're still working on the menu. Currently, the only xian specialties are the handmade noodles and the dumplings. According to the server, the noodle chef leaves by 7pm. When he is there, he can make biang biang noodles!
Beef tendon noodle soup: as soupcon mentioned on his blog, noodles weren't hand pulled but hand cut. Noodles were variable in length and none were longer than a foot. These were okay. Soup base was good and the tendon pieces were big and had the ideal uniform and gelatinous texture.
Wide bean noodle salad: they don't plan to put liang pi on the menu, so only these mung bean clear noodles. Clear savory sauce with lots of pepper. No vegetable presence.
Tung choy with spicy bean curd sauce : the server asked me how it was, and offered to take it back to the kitchen when I told her I could barely taste any fermented bean curd. It then came out lightly coated in the unami and salt packed whitish stuff it should have had in the first place. Very good sauce.
The biang biang noodles would be a potential draw, and there are unique items on the menu for Chinatown, but presently there's not a lot to bring me here that you can't find in the avenues.
House of Xian Dumplings is next to House of Nanking on Kearny St. It's a small place but it's pretty good if you get Dumplings & Noodles, other stuff just ok from what we tried.
There's a guy making noodles when I went - he's in a glassed area in the dining room so you can see him working
Ask for hot tea & ice water - given quickly.
I asked the waitress the most popular dumplings, she said the first two were it:
boiled cabbage & pork dumplings (12) $6.95 & boiled chives & pork dumplings (12) $6.95. I wanted boiled chives & fish dumpling (12) $7.95 but they ran out, so I picked boiled chives & pork dumplings which came out first & were really good! Sauce on the side you can get an extra one so you don't have to share - that's nice.
Braised beef noodle soup $6.95 - I liked the noodles - they were thin rice noodles, soft, a bit chewy. Beef I found not tender enough, some greens in the soup I liked fine. Soup was pretty good.
Cucumber & peanuts $4.95 - cucumbers were sliced up julienne style, I found them a bit sweet, not much garlic, liked them fine, peanuts we wanted them more soft, they were too crunchy still & salty.
Pig Ears $5.95 - too chewy & not tender enough - skip it.
Tung Choy spicy bean curd sauce $5.95 - it's on choy w/ some fermented bean curd sauce - liked it ok, maybe I'll just get it with garlic next time & skip the sauce.
Total before tip $33.29, credit card minimum is $15!
One unisex bathroom in the back, tiny sink & separate door for toilet.
Wanted boiled black sesame mochi $4.25 - waitress said all out.
To try: more noodle dishes, fish dumplings, & green chives pancake.
I hadn't realized Chef Jia closed. Are these different owners or the same ones trying to capitalize on a different market than the overflow from House of Nanking?
Thanks for pointing out on your blog the noodles you had were knife pushed rather than hand pulled. Do let us know if you try the wide noodles and if those are hand pulled.
And good for them for listing the names of vegetables in English. Who knows if they'll actually have these all year, but choy sum, tung choy (ong choy or water spinach), leek flower, and pea sprouts are typically written only in Chinese.