Monday, August 26, 2013
The Richmond's Xi'an Gourmet Restaurant Brings Welcome New Choices to San Francisco
I fell in love with many of the foods of Xi'an more than five years ago at David Shih's Xi'an Famous Foods in Flushing, NY's now legendary Golden Mall and have been lamenting the near total absence of this cuisine from San Francisco ever since. I am happy to report that it is now possible to get my Xi'an food "fix" in San Francisco, thanks to Xi'an Gourmet Restaurant at Geary Boulevard and 2nd Avenue.
A couple of weeks ago, San Dong House restaurant, looking for a way to distinguish itself from the growing number of local hand-pulled noodle joints (with and without "Shandong/Sandong" in their names), morphed into Xi'an Gourmet. It was not a gratuitous makeover: the chef at San Dong House was from Xi'an and, it appears, has an assertive grasp of his hometown cuisine, at least judging from to two items I had today.
I consider Xi'an Famous Foods' lamb roujiamo a benchmark, simply because I've eaten so many of them, and Xi'an Gourmet's stacks up well to them. Overall, XG's version was about the same size and as full of meat as XFF's version. XG's lamb seemed slightly less fatty, but at least as aggressively spiced with cumin, jalapenos and chili oil as XFF's. Xi'an Gourmet's buns were a bit denser and more impermeable than Xi'an Famous Foods', which gave them a nice crunchiness but made XG's roujamo messier, as the buns didn't absorb the chile oil and juices as well. XG's lamb roujiamo are also more expensive, at $5.95, though they also serve a pork version for $3.95.
I'll be returning within the week to vet the yang rou pao mo (a hearty lamb soup that uses torn up flatbread instead of noodles) and will have a further report once I've analyzed and cherry-picked the menu.
Xi'an Gourmet, 3741 Geary Blvd. at 2nd Ave., San Francisco