Driving past one of the many strip malls on Convoy, I glanced and noticed Myung In Dumplings was gone. In just a matter of weeks Shan Xi Magic Kitchen had opened. Shan Xi? So we have Xi'an Kitchen (Shaanxi) up the street and now Shanxi down the street?
Man, they really spruced up this place.....
The menu seems to be mostly Shaanxi (maybe they left out the extra 'A') and other regional (I believe I saw twice cooked pork on the menu) items. Sadly, I saw no Mao Er Duo (Cat's Ear Noodle 貓耳朵), a classic Shanxi item on the menu. Still, there were a few of my favorite dishes on the menu....starting with one that was love at first bite in China. Yang Rou Pao Mo. I've given up on finding "real" Yang Rou Pao Mo in SoCal and have resigned myself to the versions here. With that in mind, I really thought the flavors were quite good.
This was enjoyably gamey and rich in the tummy coating way good, muttony, Yang Rou Pao Mo is. It wasn't very salty; though the pickled garlic was too salty. Not much meat or bean thread in this...mostly the wrong type of waxy, pasty, counterfeit leavened bread. Still, it's the best version I've had here in SoCal, richer and more gamey than what Xi'an Kitchen serves.
I wanted something else to go along with the Yang Rou Pao Mo, but really didn't want a carb load, nor did I want anything particularly heavy, so I chose the combination three vegetables.
Man, this had a ton of garlic on it! The eggplant was nicely done, the insides quite molten. I also liked a the mild green chilies, which just had a little "zip". Very simple, but decent.
So, I sent out photos to my friends and of course they wanted to try things out. So Candice, "YummyYummy", Xiāngjiāo, MrQ, and FCMichael met up for lunch.
We started with the Shanxi staple, the sliced noodles.
The noodles weren't particularly good, kind of brittle, and this was a very simple prep. The use of vinegar reminded me of a more Shanxi style dish.
The Garlic Eggplant though, while pretty oily, was quite good.
We quickly noticed that dishes weren't overly salty here. Nice garlic flavor.....pretty decent standard Chinese fare, with decent wok skills.
This also had a decent amount of pork, but was pretty bland overall.
The Biang Biang Mian was pretty good. Some fairly large sheets of noodles with a nice sour-spicy sauce.
Xiāngjiāo had spent some time in China and marveled that they actually used the complex spelling of "biang" on the menu.
Since we had a large group, we got the Da Pan Ji (Big Plate Chicken 新疆大盘鸡). I usually love the potatoes in this dish, but we were all a but underwhelmed at everything but the size of the dish.
The chicken was on the tough side and the flavor in spite of looks very tame. Quantity over quality here.
I had to order the Cumin Lamb of course; Zi Ran Yang Rou is one of my favorite dishes.
Other than needing more cumin, the flavor was good. The meat was sliced too thick for my liking and it needed much more color.
One of the favorite dishes of the day was also the cheapest at $4.99, the Pidan with Tofu.
Nicely refreshing, good balanced flavors, not too spicy or salty, you could make out each item in the dish. I'm sure the Missus is going to like this one.
Of course we got the Yang Rou Pao Mo, which was even more gamey this time around.....probably a bit too much for Candice, but "YY", "XJ", and I really enjoyed it.
Even though the food here seems more Shaanxi than Shan Xi, (perhaps it's written correctly in Chinese - I'll ask the Missus), we thought it a decent option for regional Chinese in Kearny Mesa and preferred the dishes here to those at Xi'an Kitchen. Things seem to be looking up on da' Mesa....I hope they keep on coming.
Shan Xi Magic Kitchen
4344 Convoy St,
San Diego, CA 92111
A quick note - for those who enjoyed Myung In Dumplings; they've moved to the food court in Zion Market. I'll get a post done soon!