Biang Biang Fresh Noodle
For much of his 30-year career, chef Kieran Zou didn’t like cooking noodles. He was more interested in making heavy hitters like mapo tofu and kung pao chicken. But after cooking stints in hotels across China and at Noodle Time in London, the chef wound up running the kitchen at popular Kenmore Restaurant Sichuan Bang Bang, where he sometimes made biang biang noodles for staff meals.
It was easy for Zou and his colleagues to fall for biang biang noodles. Thicker and wider than pappardelle pasta, they fold and twist over each other in the bowl like great piles of mussed-up videotape. By the time Zou took a research trip to their origin province of Shaanxi (a mountainous province in China’s central north) he knew he wanted to open his own dedicated noodle shop.
His menu at Biang Biang Fresh Noodle’s is a straightforward list of 10 noodle dishes that includes dry Shaanxi-style biang biang noodles (pork mince, potato, eggs, tomato, carrots, shallots and salad), Sichuan-style dandan noodles (pork mince, vegetables, salad, vinegar, soy sauce, pepper oil and chilli oil, served either dry or in a soup), and dry sizzling chilli oil noodles (garlic, salad, shallots, chilli flakes, soy sauce and chilli oil). The noodles are backed by sides such as spring rolls, house-made pickled vegetables, pork wontons and roujiamo (a doughy bun filled with fatty pork mince).
Across the rest of the menu, you’ll find nods to other regions around China. The big-plate chicken noodle references Xinjiang in China’s north-west, where biang biang noodles are also a long-time staple; the cumin lamb is inspired by the port city of Guangzhou; and the scrambled egg and tomato noodle captures the flavours of his hometown of Shanghai. For drinks, there’s a fridge of soft drinks but you can also BYO beer and wine.
The shop itself is a tiny, no-fuss space in Central Brunswick, on the corner of Brunswick and Martin streets, its red-and-black paint job and concrete floors a carryover from a previous tenant. There are just 35 seats inside and out, but that’s how Zou likes it. Biang biang noodles are best served fresh (Zou says their taste changes after just a few minutes). So the smaller the shop, the faster the waitstaff can bring you fresh noodles to eat (or inhale).
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