In a blog post from last year I wrote about the delights of the Xi'an specialties at a food stall in a ramshackle basement food court in downtown Flushing, and of its personable creator, who calls himself Liang Pi. In two trips back to New York this year (a brief one in April and a two-week stay this month) I made trips early and often to his venue and am happy to report that Lao Liang has his mojo (make that roujiamo) workin'. Since my 2008 visits, the Xi'an Ming Chi stall have been featured in various media from the New York Times to China Central Television; received visits from the likes of Anthony Bourdain (more on him later) and Zhang Yimou; expanded his operations to a second outlet in the shinier (but less soulful) environs of the Flushing Mall on 39th Street; started a slick little website where you can check out his menu; and acquired a Facebook Fan page!
On my 2008 visits to Xi'an Ming Chi I was too preoccupied with trying all of the stall's hot noodle options that I never got around to trying the dish Mr. Liang is so proud of that he named himself (and his new outlet) after, Liang Pi. This cold noodle dish, made from wheat starch noodles mixed with bean sprouts, kaofu and other condiments and drenched in a complex spicy sauce is pure dynamite for hot weather eating, as I well found out this month when the temperature hovered around 90 degrees F with high humidity for most of my stay. I'm also happy to report that it travels well as takeout, since they package the sauce separately for you in a plastic bag. It made the 20-minute trip on the 7 train back to Long Island City from Flushing on a couple occasions with flying colors. (Well, the colors, mostly red, fly when you pierce the plastic baggie and hose the cold noodles with its contents; it's as satisfying as opening a hydrant on a 95 degree day.)
As readers of my blog know, I am not a big Anthony Bourdain fan, especially after his Shanghai segment two years ago. However, I will certainly be watching No Reservations on the Travel Channel on its September 7 debut, because that's when AB will be featuring New York's Outer Boroughs, and his visit to Liang Pi's Xi'an Ming Chi is slated to be shown. If Bourdain gives Lao Liang and his food its due, he will have redeemed himself for taking the fall (in my esteem) in Shanghai.
Gary Soup is a blogger, tweeter and sometimes poster to foodie web sites, usually blathering about Chinese food. He is a retired transport planner with an abiding interest in all aspects of Asian and other ethnic foods and their place in the world. He has twice been married to Shanghainese women who happened to be good cooks and consequently is well-grounded in Shanghainese "jia chang" cuisine. He is based in San Francisco, but spends as much time as he can in Shanghai and New York and can sometimes be seen prowling the streets of Montreal. He is the author of two articles on food in the guidebook "Urbanatomy: Shanghai" and has been a guest blogger for the Asian Art Museum on the food of Shanghai. He currently maintains two Blogger blogs, and posts a lot to flickr. Some earlier online efforts of Mr. Soup drift about the World Wide Web as cyberspace junk.