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Xi’an Famous Food: Hidden gem with rare biang biang noodles at Toa Payoh Food Alley

I had been eyeing Xi’an Famous Food for the longest time, having come across countless reviews online that swear by their hand-pulled Xi’an speciality noodles.

I’m a simple foodie; all it takes is a bowl of spicy, chewy handmade noodles to make me the happiest person on the planet. Now that I frequent Toa Payoh, there truly was no better time to finally make the trip down to the stall.

Xi'an Famous Food - Storefront
Xi'an Famous Food - Storefront

Xi’an Famous Food’s claim to fame is its variety of Xi’an specialities, which are rarely found elsewhere in Singapore. 

It’s located in the bustling Food Alley at Toa Payoh Central, close to the MRT station and HDB Hub. It’s nestled amongst multiple eateries, including affordable Korean restaurant Han Kki.

The shop is pretty spacious and houses a good number of tables to cater to ravenous crowds. Having arrived a whole hour earlier than lunchtime, I managed to place my order and get seated in no time.

What I tried at Xi’an Famous Food

The big, bold print on the shopfront’s striking red signboard read “Biang Biang Noodles” in both English and Chinese. What other choice did I have for starting my meal?

Xi'an Famous Food - 3-in-1 Biang Biang Noodles
Xi'an Famous Food - 3-in-1 Biang Biang Noodles

Of the menu’s 5 types of biang biang noodles, I settled on the 3-in-1 Biang Biang Noodles (S$7.40). I asked to have them spicy, of course.

The 3-in-1 in question refers to the ingredients that top the noodles. My order came with a serving of classic Chinese tomato scrambled eggs, a vegetable mix of cucumber slices and xiao bai cai, and marinated pork cubes.

Priced a dollar less, the 2-in-1 Biang Biang Noodles (S$6.40) does not include pork cubes.

Xi'an Famous Food - 3-in-1 Biang Biang Noodles
Xi'an Famous Food - 3-in-1 Biang Biang Noodles

Biang biang noodles originate from the Shaanxi province of Xi’an, getting its onomatopoeic name from the loud sound of stretched noodle dough being thrown onto a countertop.

I was pleasantly surprised that the noodles retained their moisture and did not clump together when mixing despite having been sitting there for an extended period of time. 

Unlike the regular la mian, these noodles are thick and wide, said to resemble belts. I must add that the noodles bore textural inconsistencies – the hallmark of authentic hand-pulled noodles. They held a satisfying bite and I deeply enjoyed chewing on them.

Xi'an Famous Food - Biang Biang Mian Ingredients
Xi'an Famous Food - Biang Biang Mian Ingredients

The pork cubes had the texture of pulled pork, but their compactness made them lean towards the dry side. Nonetheless, they were lightly spiced and evidently well-marinated.

I especially enjoyed the addition of tomato scrambled eggs despite my initial scepticism. A standalone dish like it felt out of place in a bowl of noodles and I was fully expecting it to taste that way as well. 

To my surprise, the tomato lent a subtly sweet tang while the savoury earthiness of the egg provided a nice balance to the dish alongside the refreshing slivers of cucumber.

The tasty sauce packed a punch, owing to the sprinkle of chilli flakes that came with the dish. It clung well onto the chewy noodles, making the dish simply slurp-worthy.

Xi'an Famous Food - Zha Jiang Mian
Xi'an Famous Food - Zha Jiang Mian

My second dish was the Beijing Minced Pork Noodles (S$6.50), or zha jiang mian, arguably a staple of any Chinese la mian meal.

It looked like just about any zha jiang mian I’ve tried – a heap of minced meat coloured a pleasant dark brown by a fermented bean sauce atop a bed of noodles, with cucumber and carrot slices.

Xi'an Famous Food - Zha Jiang Mian
Xi'an Famous Food - Zha Jiang Mian

The noodles were unique, bearing the waviness of maggi noodles but a width and thickness akin to ee-fu noodles. They were thinner and flatter than those used by other noodle shops in their zha jiang mian.

Like the biang biang noodles, these were springy, complemented well by the contrasting crunch of the carrots and cucumbers.

Xi'an Famous Food - Zha Jiang Mian
Xi'an Famous Food - Zha Jiang Mian

The meat sauce had a peppery spice that I was hit with a whiff of the moment I took my first bite. Taste-wise, I couldn’t identify even a hint of fermented black beans. It was on the drier and saltier side as compared to more full-bodied umami zha jiang sauces I’ve been acquainted with.

Objectively, the Beijing Minced Pork Noodles wasn’t a bad dish. I’d say that it’s tasty and stands well as a regular fried noodle dish, more so than it stands as zha jiang mian.

Xi'an Famous Food - Pork Cumin Burger
Xi'an Famous Food - Pork Cumin Burger

For a spicy finish, I got a Cumin Burger (S$6.10), more widely known as rou jia mo or Chinese hamburger. Xi’an Famous Food’s version comes with a choice of either pork or chicken, and I opted for the former upon the stall owner’s recommendation.

Xi'an Famous Food - Pork Cumin Burger
Xi'an Famous Food - Pork Cumin Burger

The bun was white with a light brown char. It was rather plain, tasting like a dried mantou. It paled in comparison to that of my first rou jia mo, which I remember to have been crispier and flakier.

Though it looked unassumingly light in colour, the meat sure brought the heat. Its potent combination of cumin and feisty green peppers reminded me of a Turkish doner kebab. I appreciated the slight gamey-ness of the pork as it made the dish more robust.

Final Thoughts

Xi'an Famous Food - Dishes Overview
Xi'an Famous Food - Dishes Overview

If you’ve never had Xi’an cuisine or are looking for a good Chinese noodle fix, Xi’an Famous Food is a hidden gem that will certainly be up your (literal) alley!

The stars of the show have got to be the hand-pulled noodles, which I guarantee will be enjoyed by anyone who likes their noodles with a good bite.

If you can only make space for one thing from the stall, trust the bold print on their shopfront and head straight for a bowl of their biang biang noodles. I know that’s what I’ll be doing the next time I find myself back here.

Expected damage: S$5 – S$10.90 per pax

Order Delivery: foodpanda

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