>> Meet Qin Noodle 秦面坊 | Eat the World Los Angeles

Friday, 30 July 2021

Meet Qin Noodle 秦面坊

CHINA 🇨🇳
(SHAANXI)

COVID-19 UPDATE: The dining room is open.

Hiding modestly behind a couple thin palm trees in a renovated space on downtown Alhambra's main drag is the recently opened Meet Qin Noodle. While much of the San Gabriel Valley continues to focus on a few extra popular items, and Sichuan food seems to be going nowhere, this brand new spot instead serves the food of Xi'an and the noodles popular in its province of Shaanxi.

Walking in presents a fast-casual type setup, but if you plan to stay and eat, they will have you sit down after ordering and pay at the end. In between, you are well taken care of and the initial impressions of coldness dissipate.

The menu is focused firmly on the foods of Shaanxi and refreshingly does not stray to include more recognizable items for the less familiar folks that might wander in. There are three major categories, including the rou jia mo that is usually called a "burger" in English and eaten all over China now, cold noodles and appetizers, and hand-pulled noodle dishes.

The best time to order the first of those items is definitely on a sit down visit, when the bread comes out perfectly crispy on its surfaces and soft inside. At its roots thousands of years ago, this is a food that is served hot and fresh from a vendor on the street, begging to be eaten immediately.

The cumin lamb burger ($5.25, above) is possibly the pick of the category, not overly spiced and letting the meat have its word in the sandwich as well. It makes for a filling snack or satisfying appetizer if split between two diners.

With a couple different options for hand-pulled noodles, it was desired on this occasion to enjoy the very long, wide and flat biang biang noodles, made of wheat flour and beloved in Shaanxi and throughout China. There are a few ways to enjoy these, including a cumin lamb version, but to complement the burger this order went for the 2-in-1 biang biang noodle ($9.95, below).

The two items in this case are a sweet tomato gravy with stir-fried egg and Qishan pork, cubes of fatty pork belly cooked in vinegar and just a bit of chili oil. This has a warm and comforting quality rather than spicy, and is a delicious way to enjoy the noodles. You will find these to be heavy and chewy in the best ways, and rather delightful to have in your mouth.

After such a good first experience, a bunch of takeout had to be amended to the order, with different types of noodles and a cold appetizer to enjoy later. The first two cold noodle dishes on the menu should definitely be sampled for more depth of Shaanxi cuisine and only differ by their sauce. The spicy sesame paste cold noodle ($5.25, below lower left) adds a bit of a kick and sweetness to the original version.


Another great way to enjoy the Shaanxi bread is by ordering a bowl of diced pita bread soaked in clear lamb soup ($10.95, above top right), here shown separated from takeout packaging. Since the word "diced" comes in the title, it was assumed that breaking this up and throwing it in the extremely warm and comforting soup was the way to go. A side of extra potent chili sauce comes with it for those that need the kick. The marinated pig ear ($6.95, above lower right) is also satisfying for lovers of the dish.

Do not be intimidated by parking in downtown Alhambra and leave bad reviews because of it like some jerks online, the city provides an absolutely free parking structure just south of this restaurant that can be used for anything nearby. The whole street is hopping and back to life this summer.

📍 16 W. Main Street, Alhambra, San Gabriel Valley

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