I've long lamented that New York gets Xian Famous Foods and we don't. I crave those cold skin (liang pi) noodles, jelly-like in texture and served cool and refreshing, with a light kick from the sauce. The chang-an tofu is the stuff of dreams; slippery fresh tofu with a sweet, sour and spicy sauce on top.
"I call it a Chinese burger but it's really more of a kebab..." Our waiter insisted that we try both the spiced beef and the pork 'burgers'. Rou Jia Mo is the Chinese name for it, and they come simply as meat inside bread, no further embellishment. It's not just about the meat, the quality of the bread is important here and it was toasted until crisp, sturdy enough to withstand the rich juices from the beef. A great little snack for £3.80.
The pork version was entirely different, being a little drier and resembling pulled pork. It was still packed full of flavour, though less heavy on the cumin and spice of the beef version.
There they are. Liang pi noodles, so called 'cold skin'. God, I love them so. These are served cold and sliced thickly, alongside some spongy wheat gluten and julienned cucumber. Beansprouts nestled within the folds of the noodles. This was one of my favourite dishes there; the spice level was subtle, but it built up the further down the bowl we went.
The fried dumplings, these with pork and seaweed, are typically left open ended, as is traditional for Xian-style dumplings. We had black vinegar, soy sauce and chilli oil to make up our own dipping sauce. I can't get enough of dumplings, so naturally, I loved these.
I loved Xian Impression, and I could eat those cold skin noodles every day forever and not get bored of them. The menu is extensive, and includes many more noodle dishes, so plans are afoot to go back and try more already. The service is sweet - our man told us excitedly that someone from The Guardian had called to arrange a photo of their food, which can only mean one thing... He looked a bit scared when I told him to prepare for the rush.
At £35 for two with service (no booze), it was really great value, meaning I can go as often as I like! Holloway, though. Holloway.