San Diego Eats: Shan Xi Magic Kitchen
San Diego has had a Sichuan restaurant boom, and now perhaps the city is eager for the "next" region of Chinese cuisine to fall in love with. Perhaps it is Shaanxi's turn? (By the way, this province 陕西, whose capitol is Xi'an, is often transliterated as Shaanxi, to differentiate it with 山西 province, which is also spelled Shanxi in pinyin). Last year we had a nice meal at Xi'an Kitchen, where we tried out several new (to us) dishes. That restaurant has since closed.
Shan Xi Magic Kitchen has opened up in the space of Great Wow, a dumpling place we also visited last year, when it was newly opened. There seems to be a lot of turnover in the San Diego restaurant scene! Anyway, the new restaurant seems to have put some thought into the interior arrangement and decoration, because now it has less of an open cafeteria feeling, with partitions giving individual tables more privacy.
I started out with a lamb burger, which was pretty good. Perhaps it could have used a bit more meat in the meat-to-bread ratio?
Then we shared the biang biang noodles. Biang is such a funny word in Chinese - it has 58 strokes, and you can't type it on the computer!
Instead, you have to insert the image of the character!
Now the dish itself comprises of a handful of extremely wide noodles, with a deceptively simple sauce of garlic and chili peppers. It seems like so few ingredients come together to make a dish that's supremely addictive. The noodles here had a great chew, and the flavors were savory with a slight tang to it that made it taste lively.
We also ordered the zha jiang mian. This came with the sweetish zhajiang sauce with ground meat, and piles of bean sprouts and cucumbers. The noodles were similar, but a bit narrower. I liked this a bit less, but I think it's only because I enjoy zha jiang mian less because of the sweet taste.
Like Spicy City, Shan Xi Magic Kitchen also has a display of cold appetizers, and you select three for a plate. We didn't get the appetizers this time, because we wanted to concentrate on the noodles, but they looked promising.
I'm really looking forward to my next visit to try out other dishes here!
Shan Xi Magic Kitchen
4344 Convoy St
San Diego, CA 92111