Our first-in-years, PFN official, Foodnik Friday lunch was a blast! We had a solid crowd of 7 which enabled us to taste many things from the extensive menu at Shaanxi Garden. I snapped the photos, but I'm certainly not the most knowledgeable food nerd, so check back later for discussion as I'm sure some of the others can contribute better dish descriptions.
The Cosmic Jester
The restaurant is easy to get to and open for lunch and dinner every day, though they close for 90 minutes before dinner service Mo-Th. It's spacious, but there are only 2 large tables, so if you are bringing a group and want a large round with a lazy sue, best you call in advance for a reservation, just in case.
Hot tea is the typical order when we all do Chinese, and their's is great. There's a separate drink menu too, from which the Sayuri (cold, unfiltered sake) is my pick.
THE GOOD STUFF
The food menu is huge, but structured in sections and pretty easy to navigate. There are lots of familiar dishes we all love to order at our fav Sichuan spots, but there are some really unique Shaanxi dishes and of course, the noodles!
#1. Shaanxi Special Crispy Chicken
Eat this right when it comes out, hot with super crisp skin. Whether you skip the sweet sauce or dip a little, don't pass on the spice mix.
#13. Tasty Fungus
Huge portion of brightly flavored woodear mushrooms. They are cold and refreshing with a little chile zing and a chewy texture I just can't get enough of. *
#B1. BBQ Lamb
Skewers of tender and fatty meat that's perfectly crisp with intense lamb and cumin flavors. *
#23. Honey Spare Ribs
These are sticky and sweet with a deep caramelized flavor and just a little tartness. The sesame seed garnish adds a nutty note too. What was unexpected is that the meat was tender, not fall-off-the-bone, but with a nice chew and not at all dry. There's nothing surprising or adventurous about this dish, but it's stinkin' delicious! *
#N2. Spicy Oil Seared Noodles
Jumbo hand-ripped noodles seared in boiling soy bean oil topped with braised pork, veggies, chiles, and a healthy dusting of the dry spice mix.
#N6. Dip Noodles in Garlic Sauce
This dish is fantastic! Hand-ripped noodles and bok choy in one bowl and a spicy garlicky sauce for dipping in another. The trick is twisting the noodle with your chopsticks and using a spoon to prevent slippage as you dip and transfer to your plate. Good luck with that! *
#N7. Spicy Cumin Lamb Lo Mein
Noodles with sauteed cumin seasoned lamb. Maaaaybe I didn't get enough of the sauce from the bottom of the bowl, but this dish didn't deliver on flavor. Bummer because I was super excited annit it, but there's plenty of lamb to be had on this menu and I recommend you focus efforts elsewhere.
#S2. Shaanxi Style Burger
These unique little sandwiches are super satisfying and the spicy pork filling has big flavor and lots of heat. I can see myself swinging in solo, eating a "burger" (or two), and not being mad that I can't order everything else. *
#S8. Spicy & Sour Lamb Dumplings
A favorite of the original House of Eggroll, these are still a solid choice. Delicate dumplings filled with seasoned ground lamb swimming in a sour and slightly spicy sauce with loads of wilted cilantro. The flavors of this dish are more subtle than some of the others and you may appreciate it more if eaten earlier in the meal.
#H11. Boiled Fish In Chili Oil
Exactly what you'd expect, but definitely done well. Less ma and lots of la in that it's not too spicy, but the numbing zing of sichuan peppercorns is plentiful. There was nothing left of this by the end of our lunch, so I'd say it was enjoyed by all. Or, maaaaybe me and PHXeater killed it. Either way, yum! *
#V4. Dried Green Beans
Nothing healthy here. These bad boys are fried then tossed with fiery chiles, bits of anchovies, and a little something else maybe. And, they're fantastic!!! *
No surprise, this place is excellent. With the exception of the lo mein, I'd happily order every dish again. *And again.
For future reference, here are some other items I'd still like to try:
#8. Sliced Rabbit w/Red Chili
#11. Preserved Eggs w/Jalapeno
#18. Gold Wujiang Fish
#19. Boiled Fish w/Pickled Cabbage and Chili
#21. Iron Shovel Beef Tongue
#S10. Steamed Lamb w/Rice Powder
#H1. Classic Twice Cooked Pork w/Shaanxi Buns
#H17. Pork Kidney w/Pickled Chilis
#H21. Chongquing Roast Chicken
#V2. Fried Potato in Vinegar Sauce
#V3. Hand Wrapped Cabbage
#V5. Dry Dried Eggplant
6824, 67 N Dobson Rd
Mesa, AZ 85201
Good eating in the Valley of the Sun
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