Article By Brian Bergey
What You Need to Know:
Location: From Hanguangmen at the south wall, head north
on TianshujinJie. Take a right on Bingjiao Xiao and walk
about 100 meters. The shop will be on your right. You’ll
know you are there when you see a dark green sign.
Cost: 8RMB for a small bowl, 9RMB for large bowl, +1RMB
For some of us, the ongoing quest to find a secret hole in the wall that dishes out some of the city’s best food is a way of life. What better way is there to impress friends and visitors than to take them to a secret spot that not even locals know about?
This month, we’ve found the noodle joint without a name. Literally, it has no name. The regulars of this popular hole-in-the-wall had to give the shop a nickname so they could identify it with their neighbors and friends. The name they gave it is Dried Skin Noodle (皮干面), which doesn’t sound very appetizing, but did you know that in Xi’an the term dried skin is slang for someone who has a bad attitude? That’s right; this endearing name was given to a noodle shop whose owner is basically a jerk.
When we visited the noodle shop owned by a jerk, no one was actually yelling or throwing bowls of food around the room, but no one was kindly offering tissues or a clean table either. It’s a small place in a small alley, and pretty rough around the edges, but the noodles are some of the best we’ve had and are made fresh to order.
The specialty here is oil-splashed noodles (yóu pō miàn 油泼面). It starts with fresh noodles that are stretched and slapped on a table as you walk inside. They are then boiled in a pot heated by coal on the street-side, and then slid down a counter as a special mix of spices are added.
What gives yóu pō miàn its name is the dollop of dried chilies piled on the noodles just before hot oil is poured on top. The chilies sizzle and foam as a fresh chili paste is created in front of your eyes. All that’s left to do is stir and eat!