Xi'An Cuisine (Deptford, London)
A new Chinese restaurant has opened a week or so ago next to Deptford bridge DLR station: Xi’an Cuisine Restaurant.
What used to be an all you can eat buffet appears to have a change of ownership (or a change of heart at the very least). Currently they are offering all the usual sanitised Chinese takeaway fare but have a small second menu of Xi’an dishes which I had to ask for (I suggested to the boss that they give non-Chinese customers both menus on arrival). I was told they are waiting for a chef to arrive next week and then will make some additions and alterations to the menu, but currently they still have a few interesting options.
Rou jia mo (meat sandwich?) was good. This dish is slowly stewed pork in a toasted unleavened bun and is typical to Xi’An and Shaanxi province. The rou jia mo I have eaten in the past were almost all in Beijing, and are not themselves done the Xi’an way (they are more kebab-like than slowly stewed) so I don’t have a great benchmark, but this was very tasty.
The zi ran yang rou jia mo (cumin lamb meat sandwich) was excellent – generously filled bun (excellent flat bread) with thin strips of braised lamb, mild chilli peppers and a healthy amount of cumin seeds – I can’t wait to go back for this.
An off-menu yu xiang qie zi was excellent (I asked for a qie zi dish and they knocked this up), very different to most aubergine dishes I have had – I’m not convinced how ‘yu xiang-eque’ it was. It was quite spicy but with no obvious chillis, and didn’t seem to have the addition of pork, soy, fermented bean paste, peppers or onions. It had a really smooth ginger flavour and slighty smoky taste, that I haven’t had in a dish outside of China (though my companion was not so sold on this dish and prefers the qiezi in taste inn, chilli cool, silk rd etc…).
The yang rou pao mo (crumbled bread in lamb/mutton stew) was fantastic. We were given the mo to break into small pieces at the table and then return to the kitchen to be cooked in a well flavoured stock, along with fungus and achingly tender and flavoursome pieces of lamb, a small amount of rice vermicelli and a warming chilli oil sitting on top of the broth. This was a really hearty and enjoyable dish.
The rou jia mo and yang rou jia mo were about £3 each, the yangrou pao mo was £7 ish (and £1 per extra bread), the qiezi was £6, so good value.
It’s great to see some more Chinese regional cuisine in London and I’m very interested to see what happens when the new chef turns up next week and to try a few more things on the menu. I will post an update in the near future.
Thank you so much for the very thorough post - this is one of the most interesting finds I've read in a long while. Will have to try soon!
Just a heads up that I managed to make it to Xian Restaurant last night and the food was excellent. Currently quite busy so this will be brief.
Pork and lamb burgers were both some of the best I've ever had. They were considerably better than the versions at Xian Famous Foods in NYC and were arguably better than my renditions I had in China. The pork filling was like exceptional Chinese pulled pork while the lamb was studded with cumin and seemed to have been slowly braised in a wok for quite some time. They also make their bread fresh to order for ever burger (and item, my bread was even fresh to order for the yang rou pao mo.)
Yang rou pao mo was really standard, but could have used more of the excellent broth. The lamb was a bit salty, but it was really delicious. Nice chew which gave way to a melt in your mouth texture; it was like lamb salt beef and again appeared to have been slowed cooked quite carefully. The soup itself could do with more of the necessary ingredients e.g. tofu skin, the pickled garlic on the side, etc. Still very good and definitely tastier than Chang's Noodles, but lacking in ingredients at present (basically amazing broth, amazing lamb and bread that's actually flavorful and which has edge bits that maintain their crispness in the soup.
Zha jiang mian was good, but a bit lack on the overall sauce, though the pork topping was pleasantly crunchy and well cooked. Nice homemade broad noodles (not quite biang biang mian, but very similar in appearance.)
Qaozi Mian (not sure if this is correct) was an interesting noodle soup with a nice flavorful broth and a lot of veg. My first time having this; it was nice, but I definitely favor the yang rou pao mo.
Liang pi was very good and packed quite a punch spice wise. Another dish which was really good, but which needed certain ingredients that really bring it all together. I was expected the spongey dofu and other accompaniments that one normally finds mixed into liang pi. Still, this is the only liang pi I have seen in London and while it was not as good as Xian Famous Foods (NYC), it was definitely better than many versions I had in Xian.
All in all this is one of the most exciting places I've been to in a while. They really need some business to encourage them as they seem to only have these dishes for a small Chinese clientele and their local business does not appear to be thriving (people coming in looking for a buffet basically.)
They seem very nervous about the whole operation so please go here and encourage them to expand the menu. I talked about dishes they could potentially add and they seemed like they want to, but they're getting another chef in first (it's currently a one man show in the kitchen.)
Hi jfores, I'm really pleased you made it here - thanks for your additional reports on some of the other dishes.
When I went, I too had the impression you mention in your post, that they are not overly confident about the venture and it was clear they are predominantly getting walk-ins expecting a buffet.
I was hoping that by putting up the original post it may drum up some more support for their Xi'An menu so I'm glad you made it there.
I'm nearby so will be frequenting the place regularly - I hope some more people can check it out and that word gets around as it would be very sad to see it go due to a lack of interest.
Great stuff. Love the two versions of rou jia mo (spicy cumin lamb and pork) and the lamb stew. Bread is excellent (nothing like the English muffin at the TYS good food stall, now on Charing Cross Road).
The noodles were great too - nice firm texture with a little dense bite. Favourite might have been the zha jiang mian, as the sauces was savoury even though it was sparingly applied.
The liang pi had a very interesting and robust range of flavours, sour and spicy. Very enjoyable.