Many apologies for the long hiatus! I’ve been pretty busy lately so it’s hard for me to sit down and write, but I’ll try my best to update more regularly again – I have a pretty sizable backlog of posts, hehe.
Shan Xi Magic Kitchen opened recently on Convoy (in Myung In Dumplings‘ old spot, as a matter of fact), serving up food from the Shaanxi province of China. I was initially unsure of which Chinese region the restaurant was serving because of the spelling of the restaurant’s name, but the Chinese name of the restaurant is 麵饃 陝西美食 – Shaanxi (陝西), not Shanxi (山西).
Being from Hunan, I’m not quite familiar with the characteristically-northern “wheat” food (aka noodles, buns, dumplings, etc) – and to be honest, I was generally not as interested, but lately my palate has been expanding to enjoy more Northern Chinese cuisine.
“Biang Biang” Hand-Ripped Noodles [$7.99]
The Biang Biang Noodles, which are a Xi’an specialty dish, are large, wide sheets of noodles served with sliced mung beans and a black vinegar-based spicy sauce. I typically enjoy cold noodle dishes more than hot, and dry ones more than soupy, so this fit my preferences pretty perfectly. I really liked this dish, especially the refreshing and flavorful sauce, and would definitely order it here every time.
Stewed Pork w/ Hand-Made Noodles 經典臘汁肉揪麵片 [$7.99]
The noodles here had a nice texture, and it was served with stewed pork. I actually felt like this was missing a bit of sauce, even though it was quite flavorful.
Hand-Pulled Noodles with Spicy Cumin Beef 特色孜然牛肉炒拉條子 [$8.99]
This was a stir-fried noodle dish with mung beans, peppers, and beef, seasoned heavily with cumin. My friends loved the cumin flavor, but I actually wasn’t a big fan for some reason. I love cumin spice on lamb and beef, but for some reason with the noodles it tasted quite overwhelming.
Liang Pi “Cold Skin” Noodles 傳統涼皮 [$4.59]
These cold noodles were also just okay for me. I liked the “frozen tofu” slices, but the sauce actually tasted a bit watery and bland. I preferred the much more flavorful sauce in the biang biang noodles.
In addition to all the noodle dishes, we also ordered some other stuff….
Mount Qi Pork & Caraway Burger 岐山臊子夾白吉饃 [$4.99]
I’ve never had “ji mo” before (and I think it’s cute that they translate it to “burger”!), so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the pork was flavorful if a bit stringy, and the bread was quite nice.
“Rinse” Tripe 涮牛肚 [$5.99/6 pcs]
BBQ Lamb 烤羊肉串 [$4.99/3 pcs]
We tried a few skewers here as well; the “rinse” tripe is not grilled but rather cooked in a hot pot then tossed with a sesame-based spicy sauce, which I really liked. The grilled lamb skewers were tender, but I actually thought that there wasn’t enough cumin in this one for me! I was hoping to transplant some of the cumin from the stir-fried noodles onto the lamb, haha.
Eggplant w/ Garlic Sauce 魚香茄子 [$7.99]
Dry-Fried Cauliflower 干鍋有機菜花 [$7.99]
Lastly, we had some stir-fried veggie dishes. I thought the garlic eggplant was just okay; the version at Spicy House is better in my opinion. The stir-fried cauliflower was delicious, though – it had a nice char and plenty of flavor, and quite a generous portion.
Overall, we had a few quite nice meals here at Shan Xi Magic Kitchen. I don’t have much experience with Xi’an cuisine but enjoyed what I had so far here. I’m looking forward to returning and trying some new dishes here, next time my noodle craving hits.
Shan Xi Magic Kitchen
4344 Convoy St, San Diego, CA 92111