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Yunnan by Potomac, Zongman Li's Mixian Noodles on N. Fairfax Street, North Old Town Alexandria


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Yunnan by Potomac is a new place in northern Old Town (according to google maps, it's outside the actual boundary of Old Town), that opened in early February.  I went there a couple weeks ago for lunch and enjoyed it for the most part.  They are a Mixian Noodle place from the Yunnan Province.  Here's the blurb from their website:

MIXIAN: SOUL FOOD

Yunnan is a beautiful diverse region in southwest China, offering a variety of unique flavors and textures in its distinctive cuisine – not your typical Chinese food. The soul food of Yunnan is Mixian - delicious rice noodles - which are prepared with braised meats, rich broths and sweet, savory and spicy sauces. Mixian bowls are at the core of our menu and are complimented by a variety of unique small plates.

They have (or did) a limited menu at this point with promises for more to come.  The menu in the restaurant has more options than the one currently posted online.  I ordered Pork Belly Lotus Leaf Bun and the Braised Beef Lu Mixian soup (at least I think that's what I ordered.  I just asked what's their best dish/specialty).  The pork belly bun was good, but not great.  The meat was fine, but the bun tasted like a mass produced Wonder bread version.  That may be an unfair assessment, as I'm no expert, but I was underwhelmed by taste/texture of the bun.  The soup was good, but again I don't think the broth was as deep and rich as my memories of Daikaya or Momofuku's versions of broth.  Like I said before, I'm no expert on this, so maybe my memory of those other soups are better than they actually were?!!?  I'd love to do a side by side comparison of all the ramen/mixian broths that's probably impossible.

The service was understandably a bit rough as they are brand new.  When I sat down I was greeted by a server who came up to my table and said, "             ".  I said, pardon me, and she said, "Drink?".  This time it was an audible question.  Barely audible, but audible!  I asked what they had and she said, "Soda, water, tea" so I just got water.  I saw repeat performances of the super quiet interaction with other guests, and lots of repeat questions.  The woman working the register and taking the orders was much more on the ball however.  Interestingly, I didn't see a single Asian person working there, but I never saw into the kitchen. 

Also interesting perhaps was my second "visit" to this place.  I happened to park in front the other evening for a class, and a group of 4-5 Asian people were entering and none were speaking English. I took that as a good sign, but it's likely that was their first visit (it took them a few seconds to figure out where it was along the block), so who knows if they'll return?

I'll definitely go back when I'm in the neighborhood and I'm happy to have a new cuisine on the scene.   Photos of the menu and my dishes below.

1061585772_Mixianmenu1.jpg.61fef3a8de1fedce0b08e52a7f8d9ed8.jpgMixian menu 2.jpgMixain bun.jpgMixian soup.jpg

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@Bart The buns look awful.  Were they as dry and stiff as they look?  I had to look up mixian - it's a type of rice noodle.  I wouldn't think their broth would be as rich or deeply flavored as ramen broth because generally Chinese joints don't spend as much time on their broths.  Generally it's just chicken broth with seasoning and corn starch (to give it that thicker consistency).

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From what I have heard, the owner is Chinese, I believe she worked in policy for a while then retired (IMF if I recall correctly, according to my yoga teacher who is in that complex of buildings).  We went with a friend from Yunnan (Kunming) this weekend.  They have fermented Pu'er tea.  I didn't think the buns were dry (but mine didn't look exactly like the above, the buns themselves were lighter and airier), I actually thought the meat was quite tender and it wasn't negatively fatty, but had a little fat which was a nice compliment to the bun.  We REALLY liked the wasabi soy bok choy it was very good.  Hubby had the braised beef, which he thought was a little mild, he said he wouldn't have minded some chili sauce to spice it up.  But Yunnan food generally is more mild.  I had the Little Pot, and I thought it had good flavor, to me it wasn't really spicy, but it wasn't bland at all.  The broth wasn't a ramen broth, it was lighter, but the eggs were perfectly soft boiled, the pork had a little spice and overall it was really good, some herbs, some pork.  It looked like the above, but with a few more herbs floating at the top, and lots of the pork and herbs sunk to the bottom and needed stirred around.  I thought the noodles were good, they weren't quite as good as the long bridge noodles we had in Kunming, but it was very similar.  They also could benefit from having some condiments available like chili sauce, etc.  I would like to try a few more seasonal specials.  We got the sticky rice with 8 treasures for dessert, I thought it was balanced nicely, it was in a little pot, and was enough for us to have a couple bites each (Hubby and other Hubby aren't big dessert people so me and Wifey mainly polished this one off).  For a place that just opened, I thought it had a lot of potential.  It's a couple blocks away from work, so I am sure I will check back in on it.  This isn't something that I think people will travel across DC for, but I think it's really nice to have it in the neighborhood.

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On ‎4‎/‎5‎/‎2019 at 8:13 PM, Ericandblueboy said:

@Bart The buns look awful.  Were they as dry and stiff as they look? 

Actually they weren't dry or stiff at all, but something seemed off about them.

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