AT LAST, DIVING INTO SHAANXI CUISINE

IN SHAANXI PROVINCE, NOODLES ARE A BIG DEAL
August 11, 2018

Fried shrimp in a light, citrusy mayonnaise-based sauce ($16.89) are widely available around town, but this version takes on an added dimension, crusted with crisp, fried potato threads and served alongside candied walnuts.

A cauldron of silky tomato soup ($21.89) is hung from a tall metal stand, gently bubbling as it sways above a warming flame. The soup is smooth and rich, thickened by the piles of tender stewed oxtails and ox bones within.

  • Slices of chilled, marinated tofu.
  • Stir-fried beef with cumin and Sichuan pepper.
  • Tender marble-size pork meatballs in a warming broth.
  • Slivers of meltaway pork belly dressed with sweet soy and fermented black beans.

Even more comforting is a light broth ($10.89) made with ginseng, silkie (black chicken), Chinese herbs and maca, a Peruvian root for a contemporary touch. The broth is thin and darkly colored with an intense herbal fragrance, the surface glistening with just a hint of chicken fat.

House of Egg Roll’s lamb dumpling soup ($12.89) not only is on Shaanxi’s menu, but it might be even better. The dish has been revamped, a bowl of intensely sour and spicy broth loaded with thick, chewy dumplings that are stuffed with a smooth, seasoned filling of ground lamb.

On the other hand, Shaanxi’s signature house biángbiáng noodles ($11.89) are remarkably understated. Topped with steamed bok choy and a sauce of slow-cooked pork and stewed vegetables, the long, wide, flat noodles — resembling a belt — are slippery and supple with a gorgeously resilient texture. Even spiked with a touch of the table chile sauce and black vinegar, they’re less bold and more comforting, an ancient, history-rich dish that has endured, literally, for millennia.

“The ancient people found out this way to make noodles, starting in the Qin dynasty, the first empire,” Xiao says. “This word, biáng, represents biángbiáng noodles. They created this dish, this word, and it combines not only the sound but all of the culture of Xi’an, together.”

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