BY BRADLEY HAWKS
Culinary and cultural explorers have fallen head over heels for the legendary hand-stretched noodles and tangy cumin lamb sandwiches at stall #36 — that is the Xi’an Famous Foods counter tucked deep within the subterranean labyrinth of the Flushing Food Court beneath Main Street.
Recently, David Shi and Jason Wang — the Xi’an father-son creators of the other locations — have collaborated to open Biang! offering many of the same regional dishes alongside a few new creations, this time in a sleek, narrow dining room with full table service.
The name Biang! may be intended to mimic the sound of the hand-stretched noodles slapping the tabletop as they are made, but “Biang!” should also appear like a cartoon dialog box over your head as the spices hit your palate like a superhero’s punch.
“How spicy would you like your food — it can be very hot,” warns one server. To these warnings genuine caution should be taken. The flavors and textures are intense, but ultimately quite rewarding.
Biang’s namesake noodles can be served with or without broth. The now legendary pasta ribbons are handstretched throughout the day, like thick edible skipping ropes that smack upon the counter top. They are then adorned with several potential toppings, from tender stewed pork belly to oxtail, hot chili oil, and even slices of seitan. These ribbons are playful, delicious, chewy, and the hand-torn edges grab bits of sauce like tiny pockets of intense flavor.
Adventurous diners will enjoy the Spicy & Tingly Lamb Face Salad, a spicy mélange of cooked lamb cheeks, tongue, eyeballs, and palate meat served chilled with bean sprouts, cilantro, celery, scallion and cucumber. The textures and flavors gradually unfold like a fiery bouquet. And yes, that marblesized orb is an actually eyeball.
On the less exotic end of the spectrum comes a trio of what could be considered open-faced breakfast sandwiches, with toasted mantou (steamed buns) stacked with peppery pork sausage and sunny-side-up quail eggs.
Traditional desserts (like chilled steamed rice cakes with red dates and floral-infused honey) are delicately sweet, just enough to balance the heat from the meal. The famous cumin lamb burgers are best washed down with a bottle of soju (like a sweet Korean vodka) served in a watermelon half, or even a simple glass of tart haw berry iced tea. Guests can even bring their own soju or beer for a minimal corkage fee.
For an ideal meal at Biang!, bring a small group of friends to sample a broad selection. Other popular dishes include the fiddlehead fern salad, spicy lamb dumplings, and various skewers of meat (the cumin-dusted chicken hearts are delightfully tender). Noodle dishes average around $7, with a bite-sized bowl available for $2. Salads and starters range from $2 to $10 with meat skewers mostly in the $3 range. Finally those who enjoyed the affordable yet delicious X’ian stalls in the Flushing food court and newcomers alike can savor a more comfortable dining experience with the same excellent food.
41-10 Main Street, Flushing
Sun — Thur 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Fri, Sat 11:30 a.m. to 11:59 p.m.
Casual Beer and wine BYOB with corkage fee (no liquor allowed)
Reservations for five or more only
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