Hand-pulled noodles have the power to improve nearly any situation. A new restaurant X’ian Town opened recently on a busy corner of Bedford Avenue with an assortment of noodles, dumplings, burgers (including a short rib burger), and vegetable sides.
Founded by Jenny Zheng and owned by three women, X’ian Town puts a healthier spin on traditional Chinese dishes and values flexibility for its employees. All the women bring leftovers home to their families and wanted to feel good about feeding it to their children. They were drawn to opening a restaurant to have independent lives and be less reliant on men.
The women (all of whom are moms) behind X’ian Town designed schedules so employees can choose shifts based on their kids’ school schedules. Many of them have worked with the owner for years. The owners also prioritize hiring senior citizens and women who have been out of the workforce. Many of them work in the back of the house making noodles and doing prep. Zheng also owns a location of X’ian Town on Wall Street. It’s been open for about two years and is packed with office workers during lunch. Eventually she hopes to expand to Bushwick.
Zheng, who lives in Queens, was eager to open in Williamsburg, where people are adventurous eaters and excited to try new things. She sees more people lingering instead of taking food to go and also has set up takeout. Some of her first customers have been local business owners, who have become repeat customers. Xi’an style hand-ripped noodles take at least a year to master and employees make magic from the dough. Most people learn in childhood, with the techniques passed down from grandparents. To prepare for opening, the owners visited Xi’an to visit Zheng’s brother who took them around.
The noodles are thick with a satisfying chew, served in generous portions with housemade chili oil (“We make everything except the vegetables,” jokes Zheng) and toppings of your choice. Cumin lamb is a traditional option and vegetarians can enjoy a version with pea shoots and cabbage. Portions are extremely generous, starting at $8.50 for a vegetarian version and prices are the same for a version of the noodles served in soup. To Zhang, empty plates are five stars. In addition to the hand-ripped noodles, they also serve handmade rice noodles, served cold or in a stir fry.
The dumpling offerings are new to this location and they’re adding more in the coming months with colorful wrappers made from carrots, beets, and spinach. The pork buns are a must order, with tender meat, fluffy dough and a soy-based dipping sauce (they’re also Zheng’s kids’ favorite, though she encourages them to eat more vegetables). The customers in Williamsburg have an appetite for new dishes, giving the owners more freedom to experiment.
In Chinese tradition, certain beverages balance out the spice and oil in fried noodle dishes to “make your body even,” as Zheng explains. Xi’an Town recommends plum juice, which has a slightly smoky flavor, or an herbal tea. They also offer housemade soy milk. Wall decor depicts a man from X’ian who was a master noodle maker. He was so iconic that he became a recognized symbol for the dishes. Today, his image graces their napkins and chopstick wrappers.
X’ian Town is located at 165 Bedford Avenue, near the Bedford L. It’s open from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. daily. To celebrate the opening, the first 50 customers on September 20-22 will receive a free burger starting at noon. Follow them on Instagram for more details.
Images by Irina Groushevaia for Bushwick Daily.
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