The North West Food Court is a casual sit-down spot – highly local, moderately clean, poorly staffed – with a rather varied menu. Prices range from 1 RMB (for a Fried Crispy Pancake) up to 58 RMB (for a Big Plate Of Chicken).
The person who recommended this restaurant said the qí shān sào zǐ miàn (岐山臊子面), pictured above, are a must-order. The name is poetic rather than descriptive, one possible translation is ‘shy mountain noodles’. The Chinese, in naming dishes, often avoid pragmatic descriptions which inadequately convey the taste of the delicacy on offer. We’re not sure how bashful these particular noodles are, but they are indeed super. Carrots, chilies, ginger, tofu and mushrooms combine to give this deluxe noodle dish a life of its own. Though the flavours are complex, they don’t overpower and, instead, remain delicate and surprisingly refreshing. Best of all, if you don’t like it, you’ll only have lost RMB 9.
There are two more must-try items on the menu. The Xinjiang noodles (RMB 10) come in three parts – hand-pulled noodles, vegetables in a spicy tomato sauce, and tomato and egg soup – and are outstanding, as are the lamb kebabs spiced with cumin (RMB 6) (zī rán yáng ròu jiá mó, 孜然羊肉夹馍). Both are great value for money, we can’t shout about them enough. The Lanzhou noodles are also pretty good. True, you can get pulled noodles on any street corner in Shanghai but the humble flavours drawn from the sliced beef in this Gansu Province variety make it stand out from the rest. Also, if you’re a keen meat eater you should try this lamb dish: shǒu zhuā yáng ròu (手抓羊肉). It’s a little more expensive, 36 RMB. You’ll get a plate of roast lamb cut into strips, a small bowl of sauce, plus a plate of chopped garlic and chilis to add to taste.
See all these dishes in photos here.
The restaurant has an English menu and a Chinese one; and rather unusually, the prices on the English menu are lower, though only by RMB 1 to 2. Perhaps those English menus are just old and they wanted to avoid the cost of reprinting? Regardless, although the prices at North West Food Court are low, the quality of the food is anything but.
North West Food Court. Two locations: at Jìngān Sì, 333 Běijīng Xī Lu, near Chángdé Lù; or, Basement Level 1 of the shopping centre in Xújiāhuì at 580 Tiānyàoqiáo Lù, near Línglíng Lù. Daily from 10am to 10pm.
Cross posted from http://www.likealocal.cn/