Biang! Chinese Hand-ripped Noodles
I’m slightly obsessed with noodles. From Lanzhou hand-pulled noodles, Korean knife-cut noodles, Japanese (real) ramen, Italian pappardelle, and beyond – my appetite for noodles knows no bounds. As a kid, my grandma used to whip me up gong jai mein (Chinese instant noodles) for breakfast when I stayed over. Nevermind that it wasn’t the healthiest – I had to get my slurping action on!
So it was no surprise that when my aunt and cousin raved about the hand-ripped noodles from Biang! in Flushing, my noodle radar perked up.
As the Biang! website explains, Biang! is a more refined offshoot of the well-known Xi’an Famous Foods brand, “a small chain of specialty Chinese restaurants that specialize[s] in authentic Chinese cuisine from the western Chinese city of Xi’an.” Biang! is a full-service sit-down restaurant.
I happened to be in Flushing last Saturday around 12:30pm and was planning on taking the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) back to the city after lunch. Biang! is perfectly situated in the heart of downtown Flushing, close to the LIRR and 7 train. For reference point, it’s just a minute’s walk from the Queens Borough Public Library, and is on the same street as the corner Starbucks.
With time to spare, I found Biang! easily and lined up behind one group. Wait time was about 15 minutes for me, but longer for those with parties of 3 or more. It was so packed that the hostess asked if I would be OK with sharing a table with others (AKA the two burly dudes behind me). I didn’t mind, but ended up not having to share, as my table only comfortably seated two. The restaurant isn’t huge but I did see a group of 6-8 friends seated on the opposite wall from me. Exposed brick walls lend a down-to-earth feel, as does the framed artwork, which depicts modernized versions of typical Chinese subjects, such as pandas.
Biang! has a liquor license and serves beer from Brooklyn Brewery, Guinness and more.
I started things off with an order of Spicy Cumin Chicken Skewers (chicken meat on skewers barbequed over charcoal grill, seasoned with cumin, red chili powder, and proprietary spices), which cost me $4.20 for 3. Since I ate by myself, I could only manage to wolf down two of these, in addition to my bowl of beef noodle soup. You can add on skewers for $1.25-$1.75 each.
My main entrée was the Spicy & Tingly Beef Biang-Biang Noodles (spicy and tingly lean beef stew with wide hand-ripped noodles) for $7.50. I had the soup noodle version, which was $1.25 more. Normally, I don’t go to Chinese restaurants for soups because of the MSG-riddled content, but Biang! impressed me with its soup’s rich flavor, quality spices and tender, chewy noodles. Plus, no headache to speak of! Call me converted.
Was I feeling tingly afterward? Well, I wasn’t breaking a sweat, and I barely touched my water. My taste buds could handle the medium-level spice just fine (Note: the waiter asks you your preferred spiciness level when taking your order). Perhaps this means I need to kick it up a notch next time and go for super spicy!
I didn’t have room for dessert, but the Chilled Rice Cake with Candied Wintermelon and Lotus Seeds looked enticing. It’s steamed rice cake that’s been cooled and wrapped in bamboo leaves, filled with candied wintermelon and white lotus seeds, then topped with gui hua (a fragrant flower), infused honey and rose sauce. Sounds heavenly…
Word to the wise: Biang! is a cash-only establishment. If you’re eating alone, you can easily get by on $10 or less, including tax and tip, but if you order appetizers and drinks, expect your bill to be in the $15-$25 range, which is still reasonable.
Other dishes to try: quail egg on sausage; pork belly flatbread buns; soft tofu; lamb dumplings (I’m personally not a fan of the gamey taste of lamb).
Although I dined solo this time, I found it a worthwhile experience! On my return trip, I plan to bring more people and split dishes family-style.
41-10 Main St.
Flushing, NY 11355
Neighborhood: Downtown Flushing