Chinatown continues to evolve and diversify with the addition of this destination for the suddenly hot Silk Road flavors of Xi'an in western China. From spicy-sour, handmade noodles to cuminy lamb skewers, pita-scattered lamb soup, brimming hot pots, and muffinlike meat pockets, a whole repertoire of novel-to-Philly flavors perfume the air of this modest Arch Street nook.
Xi'an liang; barbecue lamb with cumin; Xi'an pancake; scallion pancakes; chive pie; pita soaked in lamb-beef soup; Song Sao fish soup; pickled pepper wood ears; biang biang noodles with garlic sauce; sautéed spicy-chicken noodles; house-special casserole; special ma-la pot (with fish); Shanghai bok choy with soybeans (edamame); celery with dried bean curd; Chinese "hamburger" with cumin beef or spicy pork.
BYOB. With both heat and sour marking Xi'an cuisine, look for beers that are refreshing and complex - especially farmhouse-style beers inspired by Belgium. Baltimore's Stillwater Ales are among my current faves; seek out the canned Classique.
So mellow at 80 decibels I could hear the crispy rice sizzle. (Ideal is 75 decibels or less.)
Entire menu Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, until 10:30 p.m.