183 Burwood Rd
Burwood, NSW 2134
I had first come across Biang Biang noodles at the eponymously named Biang Biang, and have been head-over-heels in love with them from that moment onwards. But whereas Biang Biang is a relative newcomer to the wide noodle scene, Xi’an Eatery has been around for years, serving up bowl after bowl of carb-y goodness to the hungry masses in Burwood.
This is a little crazy to think about, but Xi’an Eatery was actually the last restaurant I managed to have a meal at before Covid-19 restrictions shut everything down. And even then, you could already see the pandemic taking its toll. Despite normally having lines out the door, the Friday night crowd was reduced to a mere half dozen. The upshot of this is that we got to enjoy the lovely hospitality, as well as the surprisingly clean and well-designed interior. I did however feel terrible for the staff, who were very sweet, and who admitted to fretting (very understandably) about the diminishing business.
First up was the Signature Xi’an Pulled Pork Burger ($6.8ea), which despite the fact that everyone insists on calling it that, is definitely more of a meat-stuffed flatbread. But no matter; a rose by any other name. This one isn’t as good as the one at Biang Biang, and it’s the bun letting it down. Instead of freshly made and absurdly flaky pastry, this is dry and a little crusty at the edges from being reheated in the microwave (I could hear it beeping out the back). Thankfully the meat filling was juicy and succulent, slow-braised with spices until it’s rich and aromatic.
The Signature Xi’an Biang Biang Noodles ($12.8) are what I’m really here for however, and this one looked every inch the part. Nestled in the deep bowl was a swath of noodles, the broad ribbons hidden by a melange of toppings. Mix it all together, and it forms a delectable blend that has a little bit of every taste across the spectrum, the spice and salt balanced out with just a hint of mouth-watering tanginess.
Yet despite the flawless condiments, this also fell short of the mark set by Biang Biang, and once again the dough was to blame. Instead of boasting an almost elastic chew, these noodles were on the overcooked side, with some soggy frayed edges here and there. It’s passable, but definitely nothing to brag about.
I had been looking forward to wontons in chilli oil, but as it turns out, the Pork and Vegetable Wonton in Chilli Sauce ($9.8) was actually the soup variety. This was pretty mediocre to be honest, without much to it that would prompt me to order it again, though I was a fan of the silky mouthfeel of the wonton wrapper.
As you may have gathered by now, Xi’an Eatery is good, just not quite as good as Biang Biang. I imagine that part of it is due to the size of the menu; whereas the menu at Biang Biang has been whittled down to just a handful of classics, Xi’an Eatery’s menu spans a much broader range. And given that Biang Biang has recently opened a branch just down the road, choosing between the two is a no-brainer for me. But with that said, a good friend of mine who’s very well versed in Xi’an food actually prefers XI’an Eatery over Biang Biang, which leads me to think that this could just be a bad night. At any rate, if you’re reading this, it means that coronavirus restrictions have been largely lifted, so go out and support your local restaurants, regardless of which you choose!
Rating: 13/20 – last hurrah.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.