Xi'an Famous Foods is a New York success story, evolving from a single location in Flushing in 2005 to many spots across the city. The food it offers is the hearty, assertive cooking of the great city in Western China, gateway to the Silk Road.
As Jason Wang writes, "I grew up eating dishes full of mouth-puckering vinegars and aggressive chili oils, chickens with jagged broken bones, freshly slaughtered in our backyard and drained of their blood, all served over rough, hearty buns and dense, chewy noodles that demand to be made—and eaten—very quickly."
Xi'an Famous Food is worth the price of admission alone for its detailed instructions on making longevity noodles, slippery cold-skin noodles (which also result in creating seitan), and biang-biang, or hand-ripped noodles.
That said, there is a wide range of enticing dishes to eat with or without them: hong shao "red braised" spare ribs; lamb dumplings and pot stickers; spicy and tingly lamb face salad (for which you will indeed need a lamb's head); rustic spinach cakes; steamed celery bites.
Throughout the book we also read Jason's account of his family's wandering journey from Xi'an to NYC, the culture shocks they encountered, the food they created out of unfamiliar ingredients, the too-common racism, and the determination that allowed them to build their family business. The character of Xi'an and its people, the ancient and modern history of the city are threaded through as well, enriching the time one spends with the book.
Hardcover. Color photographs throughout.