A group of foodies and myself were hungry, looking for a later dinner downtown, one of us suggested the very Instagram popular “biang biang” noodles. These are essentially rice noodles served in the full sheets that they are prepared as, instead of being cut into strips for easier consumption. Naturally, majority of us choose this option over the other thinner and rounder noodles, as this one is more exclusive to them.
The cafe is one of those spots that you need to know about, to know to go. The name and the exterior doesn’t speak to what’s within. And the all glass exterior showing very little seats being sat doesn’t speak to the food. It isn’t necessary one of those places to travel to for an occasion, but instead a great place for some quick and comforting Chinese food.
There isn’t much in terms of decor, labelled tables and a single server standing at the ready by the counter/register. She was a little intense to start. She spoke abruptly and spat out questions for how we wanted the food directly. “How hot do you want it?” was repeated several times when my guest didn’t know how to explain that he wanted it spicy… eventually she did warm up to us, offering up her brand of jokes and even helping us stage some of our noodle pulls.
The following are the bowls we had. One of my guests got his favourite the “Xian cold noodles”, and agreed to a medium amount of spiciness, (this was after the above back and forth with our server). It was a slippery bowl that he easily and quickly slurped up. And even though his bowl came first and there was a wait to take photos, because it was served cold he had it as it was intended.
My other guest with gestational diabetes had to skip the carbs, so ordered “Stewed lamb soup with vegetable”. It was a fulsome brew with an herbaceous after note.
Two others ordered the “Spicy oil noodle with soy sauce pork, tomato, and fried eggs”. This was dry noodles served sauced up and well seasoned. Rich and meaty, with a good layer of grit around the “sheets”. Both agreed that it need more spice though, and they remedied it with a side of spicy chilli oil to share and dip into.
I went with what I knew and ordered the “Braised beef noodle in soup”, they also had a broth-less version, but I wanted something warm for this colder night. The chunks of beef were sparse and a little dry. I wished for a richer soup, so that the noodles cold absorb their flavour more. Good, but I wanted a richer broth to match the luxury noodle feel. But in the end I kept going back for more and finished my serving clean because of how much I enjoyed biting down and chewing through the texture of the noodle sheets.
One of my guests also got their “Stewed pork burger”. Soggy pulled pork served in a white dough bun. He asked for cilantro so that he could have some greens and their freshness in his handheld, but was warned that he would be charged extra for the herbs. I found this odd, but he agreed to it willingly. As for taste it was a little soggy, given our wait to eat.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I can definitely see myself craving this again, and thanks to two other locations, I need not travel all that far to quell them. They are definitely taking noodles to a whole new level here. Don’t deny your cravings.
OLD XIAN FOODS
1517 Robson Street, Vancouver BC, V6G 1C3