Looking for a fast pre-cinema feed, my nose led me to Xi’an Noodle House in the Skyview Shopping Plaza on George Street. Xi’an is the capital of the Shaanxi province, located in northwestern China. It’s an area where it rains quite a bit so the cuisine contains a lot of foods that Chinese medicine categorises as warming. Warming foods raise the yang, improve circulation and help to dispel the cold.
So with chilli as a (rather obvious) warming ingredient, and Sichuan as a neighbouring province, you can expect to find chilli oil on the tables and spicy dishes on the menu. While the English menu descriptions - like griddle lamb offals – are functional rather than particularly descriptive, you will find a photo menu board near the counter that allows you to point to what you think you might like to eat.
We kick off with cold dishes, like long strands of well-spiced Seaweed ($4).
Garlic is another warming food, and it’s there by the truckload in the Cucumber Salad ($5) – my apologies to the people sitting in the row in front of us in the cinema.
Chives are also on the warming food list, and the Pan-Fried Chives Pancake ($5) are well worth ordering. Here the pastry exterior is dry rather than oily, and the inside is juicy and green.
Craving something simple, I opt for Sautéed Pork with Eggs and Fungus ($16). It turns out to be a approachable, savoury blend of stock-based scrambled eggs, shredded pork, baby bok choy, green capsicum, dried chillies and toothsome frills of wood-ear fungus. You can eat it straight from the dish without the need for rice, or add on a Plain Chinese Bun ($2) and sandwich it inside, dragging it through the juices on the plate for some extra flavour.
Long thick noodles are another Shaanxi feature, and many people dining on the shared long tables are consuming them. On this visit we step outside the province, and opt for Xinjiang Chicken ($18/small), which comes with slippery potato noodles instead. Even in size small, it's a hearty bowl full of chicken legs sliced as meaty, bone-in cross-sections. Ginger and cinnamon – yep, both on the warming list – are the dish’s predominant flavours. It’s tasty but intensely salty in that special Chinese salt kind of way, meaning I slurp bubble tea all the way through my film.
Xi'an Noodle House
Shop 2, Skyview Shopping Plaza,
537-551 Goerge Street, Sydney
Ph: (02) 9283 9668