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Northwest Chinese Food, Chef-Owner Hua Wang Comes from Shenyang, Liaoning Province - Shaanxinese Cuisine in College Park

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I read the WaPo article about this place Friday and, since I was working from home that day anyway, and am on the hunt for Shaanxi-style food, ran there to get carryout before the storm hit.

The place is brand new (the sign for the old eatery is still up), and although not fancy is clean and looks nice. The menu isn't that large, it seems mostly the "burgers" rou jia mo and noodles. The service was very friendly, and we quite enjoyed the food we had. The noodles were all strongly flavored (a good thing, imho) with noticeable heat without being too spicy. the texture of the noodles themselves was average, not particularly chewy, and the noodles had less vegetables in them than the pictures in the post.

We had:

--Liang pi noodles--different than the ones I remembered from Xian (which seemed to have a more sesame based sauce, and more vegetables) and even from the picture in the Post-- these were noodles coated with a red/orange spicy, slightly creamy sauce, with a few things that looked like croutons tossed in (they were soft and chewy). spicy and flavorful.

--Hot oil noodles--These are quite similar to Peter Chang's grandma noodles, but--and I can't believe I'm saying this as I love the grandma noodles--these might be even better. the slightly chewy texture of peter chang's noodles is better than texture of the noodles here, but the flavor here was stronger, with a slick of vinegar or some dark sour sauce at the bottom that was great.

--mung jelly in spicy sauce--these were broad noodles of mung bean jelly tossed in a not-too-spicy but flavorful sauce. the texture of the jelly was great--the ribbons were much more noodle-like and flexible than most of the jelly I've had, but they still absorbed the flavors and retained heat beautifully, which was perfect for a snowy afternoon

--pork rou jia mo--I didn't try this but heard it was less strongly flavored than the noodles and quite greasy, but still good overall.

One nice thing--many of the noodle dishes can be vegetarian, and they even have a vegetarian potato burger. Overall we really enjoyed the food and will definitely be adding it to the carryout rotation.

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I read the WaPo article about this place Friday and, since I was working from home that day anyway, and am on the hunt for Shaanxi-style food, ran there to get carryout before the storm hit.

"Northwest Chinese Food: A Tasty Misdirection in College Park" by Tim Carman on washingtonpost.com

This piece is worth reading for those (of us) unfamiliar with either Shaanxi or Liaoning provinces, much less their cuisines. Does anyone know if it's correct to use the adjectives Shaanxinese and Liaoningese? I suppose in North America, this is breaking new ground, but in England, the adjectival equivalents are in many a scholarly publication. Did you know that the adjective for adjective is adjectival?

One thing that isn't clear to me is what approximate percentage of the cuisine is Shaanxinese, and how much is Liaoningese (I will adjust these words when someone corrects me, with my apologies), and I suspect even many first-generation Chinese-Americans are tilling uncomfortable soil with these two regional cuisines.

I've been thinking for quite awhile about starting a primer in the History Forum about the Provinces of China (my good intentions morphed into a one-sentence thread when I realized what a daunting task it was). There are 22 provinces and numerous other regions (see the tags in that thread), and many of the names look similar to each other using Pinyin. I still disagree with ol_ironstomach about the merits of learning a few hundred Mandarin characters - I think studying them, even if you forget 95% of what you study, makes you a better person, if only because it forces you to examine a completely alien culture (let's face it, if Martians colonized earth and invented a language, it wouldn't be any more different from English than the various Chinese languages and dialects are - I'm not saying one is better than the other; merely that they are so amazingly different that it is humbling, and puts the student on a fast-track to the frontiers of their intellectual capacity - I began learning Chinese one day, before closing the book after about an hour, quickly realizing that I was embarking on a decade-long endeavor just to become an advanced-beginner). Anyway, I would *love* for a native Chinese speaker to expound upon the provinces and regions (it doesn't have to be in that thread; it can be in a new one). I, for one, would study it with all my energies, and I dream of having forums and sub-forums devoted to China and related topics one day year generation day in the future.

It makes me happy that Northwest Chinese Food is in College Park; it makes me sad that it probably won't be there twenty years from now, regardless of how good it is - hopefully one day it will be a global chain with thousands of outlets; realistically, the chef will be spending a portion of her time scrubbing the restrooms in this one, solitary location. It isn't the restaurant; it's the intellectual void and complete lack of openness and curiosity in our world, and I'm not even saying this is wrong; it's just the way it is.

As always, if someone can come up with the Chinese characters on the storefront (assuming there are any), I'll put them in the thread title.

Shaanxi: post-2-0-84981500-1454031213_thumb.png Liaoning: post-2-0-65016800-1454031244_thumb.png Shaanxi and Liaoning in relation to one another post-2-0-02535300-1454031281_thumb.png

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Interesting story behind the name. The Chinese name is 西è´@è‚‰å¤¹é¦ (Xi Bei @ Rou Jia Mo). è‚‰å¤¹é¦ is the name for the "burgers." è¥¿è´ comes from a famous restaurant chain in China called è¥¿è´èŽœé¢æ‘, roughly translated as Xi Bei Oat Noodle Village. The founder of this chain is named è´¾, which if you look carefully at the Chinese character, breaks down top and bottom into 西 (Xi) and è´ (Bei). The English spelling (pinyin) of Xi Bei can also refer to the words è¥¿åŒ—, or northwest, hence the name. Clever play on words, and yes they serve Northwestern Chinese food.

I'm assuming that the restaurant in College Park is appropriating the name è¥¿è´ out of respect, and is not directly affiliated to the larger chain, although I could be wrong. But I also saw the article in the Post and this is definitely on the top of my list to try the next time I'm in CP.

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Went here for lunch today with several people. The lunch rush hit quickly a little after noon, some people left when they couldn't get tables. The dishes were a bit slow to come out (maybe since they were slammed all at once), with items appearing one at a time. There is a sign up in the window looking for more kitchen help, so they may be working to improve this.

I had the hot oil knife cut noodles with tofu topping - these noodles were larger and thicker than the similarish noodles at Panda Gourmet. The tofu was soft tofu cut into small cubes and fried so that it absorbs lots of the sauce. Definitely try to mix the noodles around to get the tasty sauce - not super spicy, but flavorful enough that I was sad to leave a small puddle at the bottom of my dish.

The tofu skin skewer is actually the type of tofu used in tofu shreds, but not julienned - different from what I consider tofu skin (the kind available dried or frozen in knots or sticks). I've seen this type sold in sheets or shreds, it is like a very dense pressed tofu that makes a sort of rubbery sheet. A strip about an inch wide was folded through the skewer and dressed in sauce.

This half-block strip is about to become all Asian eateries, with Northwest Chinese Food, Pho Thom (mostly Thai), a new tea shop in the works, and something else in between that I am blanking on (sushi?).

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Young SB and I, prompted by Tim Carman’s review, went to this restaurant last Saturday for lunch.  We had to wait about 20 minutes for a table, which gave me time to appreciate the little posters of Chairman Mao exhorting the masses.  The ordering is unusual in that you have to write your own order (by code, such as B1) on one of the tickets located in the utensil holder on the table and then give it to an employee.  Since the review, the water glasses and napkins have grown to normal size.

We ordered the liang pi and rou jia mo.  Carman described those dishes better than I could.  I really enjoyed the liang pi.  YSB had the pork and I had the lamb rou jia mo.  I liked the lamb better because the meat was chunky and chewy, not stewed like the pork.  There was a hot pepper condiment on the table that was a good addition.  These little sandwiches take about 15 minutes to prepare since they are made fresh.

We also got the red oil sesame dumplings.  The wrapper was chewy, reminding me of those at China Bistro (Mama’s Dumplings).  The dumplings were in a sauce with a lot of hot pepper and garlic and, interestingly, some sesame paste.  It was very good.  Lastly, on the recommendation from a Chinese lady waiting for her takeout order, we got the hot oil seared knife cut noodles.  We didn’t get anything extra on them so there were just some little pieces of cabbage and I think, pickled vegetables.  The sauce was what seems to be the standard for this cuisine- hot peppers, scallions, and a lot of garlic.  Good, but may try it with the extras next time.

It was around $30 before tip for this excellent lunch.  I look forward to returning.  A huge bonus (for anyone, really) was that I met another guy with a Bullitt Mustang and he gave me some ideas for making mine speedier and growlier.

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I was underwhelmed after my visit here on Saturday.  I was reminded of my younger years when hanging out in College Park on a Saturday night, but more of that later.  We were the next to last table seated at about 8:45.  We ordered two of each skewer, with the exception of the pork.  The sausage was a normal pork hotdog with some some spices sprinkled on top. The chicken, beef, and lamb were all dry.  There was no discernible difference in flavor between the beef and the lamb, just dry and stringy.  The hot oil noodles and beef noodle soup were the stars of the evening with the burgers being close seconds.  The beef noodle soup had a very deep broth with a strong anise flavor.  It was spicy, tasty and a bit numbing.  The hot oil noodles were also very nice, with a spicy/numbing/tart (from the vinegar) flavor.  There was a true depth to this dish as well.  The burgers were also very tasty.  I may have built this place up a bit based upon the positive reviews and the inclusion in Tom's fall dining guide--but it did not live up to my anticipation and trek from Gaithersburg.  As mentioned at the beginning of my review, there was some typical Saturday night College Park excitement on this trip--we watched a sobriety check which everyone got to watch from the window.  I really felt bad for the guy walking the line and tracking the officer's flash light.  Unfortunately, it didn't end well for the driver.  Also, as we were leaving and walked past Bentley's, the bouncer wrestled a drunk patron out onto the sidewalk in front of us and we got to watch them grapple on the cold cement.  

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got carryout two weekends ago. sadly, the liang pi noodles weren't great--the seasoning was mild and they seemed to be lacking in the vinegar (or whatever made them tangy) they used to have. the hot oil noodles were similarly not as good as before and could have used more sauce and seasoning--i had many mouthfuls of barely seasoned noodles. 

however, husband loved the dumpings in sour soup, said they were excellent. 

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On 5/1/2017 at 2:59 PM, sandynva said:

got carryout two weekends ago. sadly, the liang pi noodles weren't great

That's because the chef's name is Liang.

Does anyone know if Shaanxinese is a word? Google it, and look at the top three results. :mellow:

Screenshot 2017-05-16 at 6.30.17 PM.png

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