>> Shan Xi Snack | Eat the World NYC

17 December 2020

Shan Xi Snack


COVID-19 UPDATE: Both locations are currently takeout only. Online orders can be placed directly through the restaurant's website. Please note that many of the “special snack cold dish” items (cucumber, black fungus, etc) may not be available.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Written by Joseph Gessert, photographed by Liv Dillon.

Shanxi and Shaanxi are neighboring provinces in northeast China. Despite its name, Shan Xi Snack features menu items more commonly associated with Shaanxi, whose capital Xi’an has inspired the Chinese regional cooking chain Xi’An Famous Foods as well as dozens of other NYC stalls and restaurants offering variations on the cumin lamb burger.
A bit past the southernmost end of Sunset Park’s Chinatown, Shan Xi Snack’s cumin lamb crispy burger ($5.75, below) is genuinely different. Their version has a crispier, lighter bread, dollop of sweet mayonnaise, and a scattering of fresh vegetables dressing the chunks of cumin lamb. It marries the Xi’an burger with American fast food sensibilities, and is joined on the menu by a black pepper beef, a more traditional pork, and a handful of other burger variations including a vegetarian option.
A menu section is dedicated to various incarnations of tri-color cold skin noodles. Liang pi with spicy house special sauce ($6.75, below) is served room temperature, as is common with these noodles, mixed with cucumber, bean sprouts and chunks of gluten.
Stir-fried liang pi with beef ($7.75) is warm, with the vibrant colors lost a little in the stir-fry but the noodles’ texture holding up admirably. Judging by that texture, Shan Xi’s liang pi are likely wheat-based, rather than rice.

Hidden in the appetizer section of the menu, a very respectable hot and sour rice noodle soup (below) will set you back only $6.95. This is not the Chinese American soup of that name, but a tangier corn starch-free, altogether different dish that is commonly found in China.
It is often listed on English menus as spicy and sour. The noodles taste more like yam or potato starch than rice, and are delicious regardless of starchy origin. They are topped with baby bok choy, peanuts, strips of seaweed, and much more.

The surprise hit of two meals was crispy burger in lamb soup ($9.95, below), with chopped up flatbread, glass noodles, and chunks of lamb meat dunked in a rich and spicy lamb broth. The dish is a beautiful showing of Muslim influences in Chinese cooking. A mysterious plastic container of black garlic was added to the hearty soup and provided a perfect note of funk and acid.

Pumpkin pancakes ($2.95) are mild but very beautiful, with the pumpkin flavor subtle in a puck of glutinous rice. Plum juice is a bargain at $2, with the smoked preserved plums flavoring an increasingly-common favorite at modern NYC Chinese restaurants. And though Belgian biscuit milk tea ($5.75) comes out looking like black sugar milk tea, it’s actually full of crumbled cocoa cookies, in addition to boba, and the black sugar is chocolate syrup. The chocolate and crunchy cookie bits are yet another twist in a menu full of surprising textures and flavors.


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