The flavours of Xi’an in Edmonton
Restaurant review by Jayden Young
photographs by Jayden Young
October 13, 2019
It feels like I am in Xi’an again. With every bite I take—the springy Cold Noodles, the aromatic Pork Burgers, the hearty Lamb Flat-Bread Soup, each bowl holds their weight of authenticity.
Hidden behind the McDonalds on 99th street, and in-between CydiaFix and Pho Thanh, you might just miss this little gem if you are not careful. But do not be fooled by its humble exterior, because it is rare to find such gastronomic familiarity and accuracy in Edmonton. I am sure I am not the only one who feels this way, since there is a line most of the time before the doors open. Sometimes it is so busy, that if you are not quick enough the Cold Noodles will sell out by 7 pm.
The restaurant can get fairly festive during peak hours (usually 5-7pm), yet the volume never gets loud enough to interrupt conversation. Personally I enjoy the atmosphere, but I realize there are customers who would like a calmer setting – in which case I would recommend you visit outside peak hours, when it is a lot more peaceful. Aside from those peak hours, I have never had to wait for more than ten minutes to be seated. And for some customers, the middle-row might feel slightly tight—but the servers are nice, and there is plenty of free parking outside.
One of the most popular items at Noodle Feast are its Cold Noodles (which is also one of my favourite foods period), and it is also what makes Xi’an, Xi’an. Like how Japan is known for its Sushi, and Italy for its pasta, when you mention to another Chinese person you are from Xi’an, it is very likely that somewhere along the conversation one of you will mention Liang Pi.
Liang Pi, or Cold Noodles, is a popular street food and stable item in north-west regions of China. The ingredients are actually very simple. The chef mixes black rice vinegar, Chinese chilli oil, and spiced water together, pouring it over the springy-cold noodles and topping it off with some cucumbers, gluten, and bean sprouts. It is a very light, but sophisticated flavour. A little bit spicy at first, but evilly addicting as you will be rushing back for more without even realizing it.
they are not the only popular item at Noodle Feast. If Liang Pi is the Ying,
then Rou Jia Mo, or Pork Burgers, is the Yang. The meaty and juicy flavour of
the burger adds depth to the noodles, while the lightness of the noodles resets
and refreshes your pallets for more. Although both are already very tasty
alone, I would still highly recommend to get them together (Pro tip from me and
the locals, dip the burger into the noodles—it
will taste even better as the buns will soak up the flavour of the broth).
The dumplings at Noodle Feast are also a must try (spicy and sour version picture on the left), along with another Xi’an special: Lamb Flat-Bread Soup. Traditionally, you are supposed to break the flatbread by hand into little pieces in the bowl, and then your server will come grab the bowl and fill it up with broth, letting the flatbread soak in all the richness of the soup.
However, most people nowadays find it too bothersome, so the restaurant will chop the flatbread for you instead. I would recommend you to taste it in its original form first, but after that feel free to customize your bowl to your liking.
Personally, I am a big fan of their chilli oil (spicy), so I will add a lot of that into my soup (I don’t think extra salt is needed). It also comes with a small plate of sweet-garlic—kind of like pickles—that will elevate your experience when paired together. Sometimes they might forget to give it to you, if so, make sure you ask them for it! Remember to peel off the garlic before eating. Nothing bad will happen if you don’t, but you will certainly be able to feel the crunch more.
Another nice surprise is the variety of noodles on their menu. The ones I have tried and recommend are ‘Rolling Noodles In Special Spicy & Sour Soup’, ‘Rolling Noodles With Hot Chili Oil & Green Onion’, and ‘Hand Pulled Noodles With Beef & Beef Bone Soup‘. Their Shrimp Fried Rice is also surprisingly good.
Furthermore, the price and serving size are reasonably generous. Both the Cold Noodles, and the Meat Burger starts at $7.99, and everything else is below $18, with the Lamb Flat-Bread Soup (it is called “Dice Pancake Stew In Lamb Soup” on the menu) coming in the highest at $16.99. Noodle Feast only serves Dumplings and Lamb Flat-Bread Soup on the weekends (limited quantities), so make sure to go early or they might sell out.
So far everything sounds very enticing, so what is the catch? There has to be a catch, right? Well… no. There is no catch. That is why Noodle Feast is one of my favourite restaurants in Edmonton. The compromises you are getting is close to zero: Great pricing and serving size, clean and good service, great quality consistency, and the dishes themselves taste phenomenal. I will admit however, the flavour profile might be a little heavy or too novel for some, but even then I am confident you will still enjoy the experience.
Depending on how busy it was and how much I ordered, there were times when I got my food within 15 minutes, and other times within 35 minutes; both are respectively good times. Other than Mondays and Tuesdays, Noodle Feast opens everyday from 12:00PM to 8:30PM. They do takeout, but the last time I checked they do not have delivery or support reservations—and of course, everything is made-to-order.
Sure, at times I might get annoyed at the line-ups, or when my favourite item is sold out, but strictly speaking from flavour and authenticity—Noodle Feast is definitely a must try in Edmonton. It not only evokes the nostalgia of Xi’an locals, but like every great restaurant, it leaves their customers satisfied, happy, and hungry for more.
Noodle Feast Restaurant
Located on 3440–99 Street, NW, Edmonton
Phone: (780) 439-8088
(currently the restaurant does not have a website)