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SEA: Shi'an Restaurant


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SEA: Shi'an Restaurant

jenn | Nov 1, 2007 11:47 AM

Months back as we prepared to move to Seattle, some one on this list recommended this restaurant.

Well, once we got to Seattle, both pups were homesick for our traditional weekend Chinese hit so on our first Sunday in Seattle we went to try Shi'an. On Monday we went back. Both times the food was very good. For the curious, you can't even find a food with Shaanxi [sp?] food in LA so we are especially pleased with this place.

Restaurant is called Shi'an, address is 12534 Lake City Way NE, just past 125 NE. I have no idea why they have chosen the what is to me, curious way to spell Xi'an as opposed to the standard pinyin.

Whatever you do, Disregard the stupid signage on the outside that refers to Mt Baker Café or the Chinese American food or american breakfasts. They really need to change the sign---I imagine a lot of people are running away thinking that the place is serving 50's style chinese food. Oh and disregard that when you walk in, it looks like an old 50s coffee shop that serves ice cream and burgers. It really is a chinese restaurant with chopsticks and pots of tea and everything.

The menu is divided into scary american food followed by Chinese food including appetizer things, xi'an speciallities, noodles, dumplings and more "regular" chinese dishes---soups, etc. Note if you are into fish, this is not fish oriented chinese food. The owner of the restaurant is originally from Xi'an. To my mind and tastebuds, the Xi'an food they serve tastes pretty much the same as what we had in Xi'an.

If you like lamb, one of the best things to order is the soup. I can't remember the name of it but it is listed under specialities and it comes in two sizes. This is essence of lamb soup---very lamb tasting with cut-up noodles that I think are mung bean as opposed to rice or wheat. It is also participatory. If you order the soup, you will be handed two flat round bread things. These are to be torn up into little [dime size at most] pieces. When you do that, they will take the bowl of torn bread away and eventually bring your soup. Traditionally this soup is made with stale bread but I suppose US health codes get in the way of having the kitchen staff tear up the leftover bread each night. So you get to tear your own. When the bread is returned to you, its mixed with broth, noodles, and hunks of lamb. You also get pickled garlic, sesame oil, what looks/tastes like kimchee and more lamb stock. Each person takes some soup and then mixes all this stuff to taste. The little bread bits end up being like dumplings. Very very tasty stuff.

The little bread rounds also appear in these sandwich things. They have a version with pork which is very good. They also have a lamb with cumin which is very very good. Each of those costs about $4.95 and they make a great lunch. Usually, we get one or two and share. This last time, in a fit of greed, we ordered 4. 1 1/2 went home for the next school lunch.

They have two types of boiled dumplings--10 to an order. We have tried both and liked the pork and chive the best. We tried the pork and shrimp on the first trip and were not as excited. They have pot sticker style dumplings as well but we haven't tried those. Family favorite leans towards how they do dumplings in Beijing which is mostly boiled. The menu also has steamed buns but the bun expert in the house, aka younger pup, has just not been in the mood to try them. Perhaps next time.

They have a lot of noodle dishes and can do hand pulled noodles on all of them. I think right now they are not getting enough people ordering the noodles so they are keeping the dough cold which makes them hard to pull. The best noodle place we used to go to in LA kept their noodle dough out of the fridge and ready to pull on a momments notice but then they sold more noodles. Shi'an restaurant seems to be keeping the dough in the fridge so it comes out cold and is difficult to pull. The guy pulling seemed a bit embarassed the first time because the dough was uncooperative but the noodles tasted fine. The noodle puller does it right in front which the kids always like. I suspect my son is secretly hoping that if we go often enough and he watchs diligently enough he will a) learn how to pull noodles and b) convince the noodle making guy to give him lessons. Can't argue--it worked for him in LA [we used to go to Malan for the curious.....]

We have only tried a couple of noodle dishes but they were very good. They have zhajiang mien and dan dan mien. The dandan is listed under soupy noodles, the zhajiang under dry. Both are very very flavorful and tasty.

Veggie wise, we keep hitting the same green beans. I have to say, they do awesome green beans--the spicy kind with garlic and slightly wrinkled skin. I'm not sure if there is meat in the black beans [our fav hunan place in LA [Dong Ting Spring] seemed to put a bit of chopped ham in the beans] but they are very very good and are also fine left overs if by unusual circumstance, you don't finish them. Other veggies look fine as well---I think we ordered bok choy the first time and it was also very good.

We have only tried two dishes from the regular Chinese menu. We have ordered the twice cooked pork. I think this is generally a hunan dish involving bacon and it is a favorite in our house. It comes with baconny meat and cabbage and a redish oily sauce. If you don't like fatty meat, you won't like this but I thought it was very well prepared. The spicy level was very good for our family but if you aren't used to such things you may think it very spicy so be sure to order rice to go with it. We have also ordered the pork stir fried with cucumber and that was also very good.

Service is good but some might think it slow because everything is made to order. We are thinking that next time, we might call in our order ahead since there are certain things we know we will order every time we go.

They take credit cards and there has always been ample street parking is out front. Whenever we have been there, its been too darned empty so I feel obligated to spread the word and, since the food is so good, the joy.

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