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Mar 13, 2014 11:07 PM

New Xi'an/Shaanxi restaurant Terra Cotta Warrior on Judah St. [San Francisco]

I visited this new restaurant today and was very favorably impressed by the noodle dish I had (youpoche mian="noodles with sizzling oil") and a cumin lamb "burger" (roujiamo).

It's a small place with a compact menu really focused on Xi'an/Shaanxi and other North China dishes. All the noodles and sauces are made in house. I've scanned the menu and posted it as a set on Flickr.

Terra Cotta Warrior
2555 Judah St. at 31st Ave.

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  1. thanks again, Xiao Yang.

    1. This looks very interesting, thank you Soupçon for the report. The food looks fabulous, and I really like the way the name in Chinese characters is rendered on the front -- quite an interesting font that looks custom designed.

      1. Somehow I missed reading about this before, but I will try this place soon!

        1. Two of us had lunch at Terra Cotta Warrior on the way to Bouquets to Art last week.

          The Garlic Taste Pig's Ears had a great texture for me though maybe a little soft for those who like them very crunchy. A very refreshing dish, not very spicy.

          The Tofu with Preserved Eggs had good flavor and texture. I'm not a big fan of pork sung but in this dish the pieces were small enough to avoid the chunks of unchewable fibrous material that often annoy me, and they added more intense flavor than usual.

          The Pita Bread Soaked in Lamb Soup (I'm not sure which of the two version we had) was quite tasty. I was surprised how dumpling-like the little chunks of bread were.

          At first we weren't especially impressed with the flavor of the Noodles with Sizzling Oil but that may reflect our failure to fully mix in the toppings and sauce. When I finally got a big dose of the toppings it was very flavorful. The noodles had highly variable shapes and were a delight to chew.

          The service was good with no language problems. The décor was much nicer than your normal inexpensive Chinese restaurant—even the restroom was nice.

          1 Reply
          1. re: charliemyboy

            Yes, the "Noodles with Sizzling Oil" need to be mixed vigorously at the table, and your server was amiss in not informing you of it. I've been to places in China where the server mixed it for me.It's an excellent dish, prepared tight.

            The same caveat applies to the "Shaanxi mian-pi" That pool of chili oil at the bottom is meant for you to slosh the noodles in.

          2. oh dear, I love me a roujiamo. These little burgers - sometimes better in spicy pork flavor - are all over beijing, too.

            8 Replies
            1. re: bbulkow

              Both Terra Cotta Warrior and Xi'an Gourmet on Geary & 2nd have decent roujiamos. TCW's "Pork with hot pepper burger" is the best of the lot, IMHO, loaded with fresh jalapenos AND chili oil.

              1. re: soupçon

                I was in the area recently and decided to try out Terra Cotta Warrior (rather than Xi'an Gourmet, as I had been disappointed by it's previous incarnation's offerings vs. promised offerings a couple times, and apparently has a new chef but same management),
                I got the Shaanxi mian pi and the pork rou jia mo (I somehow missed the hot pepper version on the menu).
                I enjoyed the mian pi--it is definitely heavy on the sour note, but I think that is a characteristic of this style, and to my taste had great flavor, not just a one-note sourness. I would prefer thicker, wider noodles, but perhaps that's because I've only had these starch-based noodles once before in Flushing (and even then I preferred the saucing to the noodles, and use the sauce with some hand-pulled noodles) and like quite a bit of texture in my noodles, which is perhaps not a main pi characteristic. I particularly enjoyed the pieces of dough included in the mix of noodles, cucumber, and bean sprouts. They absorbed the sauce well, and provided more chew than the noodles.

                The "Chinese burger with pork" was okay. I found it had too much bun/filling, particularly since I missed out on the hot peppers. No problem, as I dipped the top half of the bun in the mian pi sauce. The hat the texture of a pork shoulder stewed in liquid--a bit stringy. It was seasoned--a medicinal note that I couldn't identify stood out to me

                1. re:

                  The noodles look a little thinner than at xian gourmet.

                  Was it at all crowded?

                  1. re:

                    By "Flushing" I assume you are referring to Xi'an Famous Foods, and poppa Shi's sauces are incomparable. I love the way they package the sauce separately in a plastic bag for takeout, for those days when it's too hot and humid to hang out in the Golden Mall. XFFS mian pi saucing is also much spicier than Terra Cotta Warrior's, though TCW offers a "Szechuan Mian Pi which may be more comparable (I haven't tried it).

                    The "bread" in mian pi is actually kao fu, wheat bran gluten.

                    I frequent both TCW and Xi An Gourmet and feel they both have their virtues. In general, TCW's food is more finessed, while Xi An Gourmet's dishes are heartier in both composition and portion size. Xi An Gourmet needs my business a lot more than TCW and the dumplings (shui jiao) at Xi An Gourmet, made by a woman from Qingdao, are among the best in the City, IMHO.

                    1. re: soupçon

                      It wasn't crowded, but I was there just a bit after 4pm on a Saturday. Tables were starting to fill up by the time I left.

                      Yes, I did mean Xi'an Famous Foods, who's liangpi I consumed a couple years ago in a gluttonous buy everything from the Golden Mall session, where the origin of many of the dishes got lost in the shuffle. However, I do remember the sauce being both spicier and more garlicy than at Terra Cotta Warrior, though, again, I really enjoyed the version there too. The kao fu seemed denser than versions I've had in Shanghai-style preparation

                      I'll have to stop by Xi'an Gourmet and get those dumplings.

                2. re: bbulkow

                  I really like the ones at Xi'ian famous foods here in NYC, but i have to say as lauded as their cumin lamb version is, i personally prefer the five spice flavored pork (though it isnt spicy its got much more rounded and nuanced flavor than the cumin lamb which is just straight cumin and heat).

                  1. re: tex.s.toast

                    I'm a longtime XFF fan (since Spring of 2008, in fact) but I find their pork roujiamo a little too salty. I prefer Terra Cotta Warrior's version of the classic pork RJM, but prefer the ones packing heat overall.

                    1. re: soupçon

                      oh yeah - i go into any XFF experience knowing that ill be drinking water like its going out of style. worth it, imo.