[Photographs: David Straight]
Such a prosaic name: such wondrous food. Xi’an is down the bottom of Anzac Avenue. It is small and plain, and about the only defining feature is the hilariously 80s ordering system, which involves pushing numbers into something that looks like an early eftpos terminal.
It’s food from Xi’an, the province (better known for terracotta warriors, etcetera) and so, a bit like Shaolin Kung Fu Noodles, it’s influenced by the Muslim population of China’s north. There are “Chinese burgers” – we ate the lamb ($4.50) with cumin: juicy meat, slathered with spices and chilli, between two pieces of bread that are almost like naan. Then we ate poached celery with dried tofu ($6.50), also with chilli sauce: crunchy and fresh. You should try the “pita bread soup soaked in lamb soup”($9) – the bread is more like dough, and it is almost gelatinous. In a good way.
But you really must try the biangbiang noodles – so-called belt noodles because of their thickness and their length – they’re incredibly long, made by hand in the open kitchen. We like them with Xi’an-style braised pork ($9). Unctuous, rich, slowly cooked with a touch of tomato. Truly wondrous, from the first bite to the last. SFG
HOURS Lunch and dinner, seven days.
ADDRESS 11 Anzac Avenue, City, ph 368-7600.
IMPORTANT DETAILS There are several other branches of Xi’an – Northcote Town Centre, Mt Albert and Panmure. Northcote is just as good as downtown; we haven’t tried the others.