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Biang Biang

Hand-pulled noodles and refreshing Liang Pi are going to have the crowds queuing before long


30 Apr 2024


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Written by:

Lisa Cope

What should we know about Biang Biang?

Biang Biang is the newest restaurant from the guys who brought us Hakkahan, Nan Chinese, Bullet Duck & Dumplings and Little Dumpling. The Chinese/Irish owners are good at spotting gaps in the food market, with Nan Ireland’s first (and currently only) place to eat Huaiyang cuisine, Bullet Duck one of the only places in the city serving Chinese roast meats, and the tiny Sichuan-serving Hakkahan in Stoneybatter perennially bursting out onto the street with hungry customers.

Biang Biang is all about the food of the Shaanxi Province in Northern China and its capital Xi'an, a cuisine heavy on noodles and strong, savoury flavours. Having been introduced to the complex, "one serving is never enough" flavours in Guirong Wei's Xi'an restaurants in London (Xi'an Impression, Master Wei and Dream Xi'an), it's long been a source of culinary agony that we didn't have our own sanctum for Liang Pi, beef biang biang noodles, and hand-pulled fried noodles with lamb, so we were always going to be straight in here with wide eyes and empty tummies.

(In case you're wondering, we were also straight into Xian Street Food, but when the Liang Pi arrived missing the all important steamed gluten/kaofu we were out. Incidentally they took a trademark case against Biang Biang which was initially supposed to be called Meet Xian, saying it would be confusing to customers. Incredibly they won, even though it's the equivalent of two restaurants with the word 'Rome' or 'Venice' in their name).

Where should we sit?

It's a petite space with just five tables of four, and you might have to share with strangers if it's busy. There's bench seating on the right, and parents take note - as you walk in, the table right in front of you on the left has a perfect space just inside the door for a buggy.

What's on the menu?

It's nice and compact - just the way we like it (when it delivers). There are four sections - "Roujiamo" Chinese hamburger, "Liang Pi" cold skin noodles, handmade dumplings, and Biang Biang hand-pulled noodles. You're going to want to try it all, which you can easily do between two, but a table of four will allow you to try more combinations.

The Roujiamo (meaning meat in a bun) is a flatbread which has been cooked then sliced open and filled with either pulled pork or beef (€6.50). It's not a weighty portion, but it packs plenty of flavour in the chewy crust and sweet pork filling. We recommend lathering on the chilli oil for an extra flavour punch.

You'll never forget your first taste of really good Liang Pi, a refreshing, cold, slippery, tangy, spicy noodle dish, and are likely to spend the rest of your days trying to get that flavour high again. The springy, elastic noodles are made by washing the starch off basic white dough, then steaming the starchy water and chopping it up to make noodles (there's a good video of the noodle part here).

The remaining stretchy gluten (basically seitan or kaofu) is then steamed and served on top along with cucumber, bamboo shoots, and a sauce made from chilli oil, black rice vinegar, soy and other kitchen specific flavourings. It's made to be slurped and if you don't wear a bib, you're likely to leave covered in it. We coincidentally ended up in Dream Xi'an in London two days after eating here, and in a tale of two Liang Pis, there's very little in it.

With a dumpling specific restaurant in their stable, these guys always deliver, and the choice here is between beef, chicken or vegetable, either doused in chilli oil or in a hot and sour soup. Dumpling skins are fat, chewy and slightly uneven – the type that can only be achieved by hand-rolling and wrapping, not factory line precision. The beef filling is rich and savoury, with just the right amount of chilli oil, soy and spring onions to bathe in, and six for €9 felt generous (not a word we're using much of these days while eating out).

Biang Biang noodles get their name from the sound the dough makes as it’s slapped down on the counter while being stretched into fat, flat noodles. We ordered ours with minced pork (there's also diced pork, beef short rib and veggie options), and they’re another star of the show here, as good as Guwron Wei’s in London. The only thing we didn’t get was the tiny diced potato and carrot, which had the appearance of frozen veg, and added nothing in terms of texture to the dish.

There’s a tomato and egg version that we were considering, but after Katy McGuinness said most of her table found them "challenging" and that they were nowhere near as good as she was hoping, we're glad we swerved.

Do they do dessert?

They do not, but if you're there at lunchtime you can pop a few doors down to Café Lisboa for a Portugese custard tart as good as any in Lisbon. If you have a post-dinner sweet tooth, Ayla Turkish Foods on Capel Street is open until 20:00 and does the best baklava, as well as a large range of Turkish delight.

What about drinks?

Functional at best, with soft drinks, house prosecco, white and red wine (nondescript Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot), Tsing Tao and Sierra Nevada for beer, and the most interesting option an NA grapefruit IPA from Norwegian brewery Lervig. We wouldn't plan on hanging around post food, and if you're looking for something more exciting, the brilliant Bar 1661 is just around the corner to fulfill all of your cocktail dreams. For a traditional boozer, you can't beat McNeill's, especially if there's a trad session going.

(Bar 1661)

How was the service?

Extremely nice, with the sole server keeping a watchful eye over everyone, happy to point out his favourite dishes and answer any questions with a smile. The food all came when it was ready, and everything was on the table within 10-15 minutes of ordering.

What was the damage?

€37 for a very filling meal for two, with tap water. Bianging value (sorry).

What's the verdict?

Rejoice. FINALLY Dublin has Xi'an food we would have previously gotten on a plane for. It's a great day for the parish, and all the food adventurers out there wanting something new to introduce their taste buds to. Our only caveat is that this is not the most elegant food to eat (see above), and you'll be so excited digging into it that you're likely to end up with a face that's been slapped by noodles and spattered with chilli oil. You may want to avoid for a first date or business meeting, but otherwise go quick before the buzz really builds.

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