1 Dixon St Haymarket, NSW 2000
|Opening hours||Daily noon-10pm.|
|Features||Cheap Eats, BYO, Outdoor seating|
|Prices||Cheap (mains under $20)|
In May 2017 Dixon Street, Chinatown, was blessed with a new Chinese noodle joint that served up big bowls of chewy noodles topped with pork, beef and a considerable (but not overpowering) amount of chilli.
This humble Shaanxi restaurant was called Biang Biang, and within the first two weeks of it opening I ate there no fewer than four times and recommended it to no fewer than every single person I'd ever met in my life.
Clearly I wasn't the only person who did this. After a roaringly busy first year, Biang Biang has started to multiply with the speed usually associated with a franchise like Starbucks or Pieface (remember when there were two Piefaces on every Sydney corner?).
Already there are Biang Biangs in Burwood, Broadway, Chatswood and Parramatta, and plans to open in Liverpool, Macquarie, Sydney CBD and Melbourne before the year is over.
Biang Biang is owned by Chinese Australian company GCM (Gu Cheng Management), which has opened several restaurants in Sydney over the past two years. While the company was founded in Chengdu, GCM partner David Feng has been living in Australia since 2003.
He's been surprised at how quickly Biang Biang has taken off. "We opened Biang Biang for people from Xi'an living in Sydney, so they had somewhere to eat the food they missed from home," he tells me. "We didn't expect Biang Biang to be as popular as it got with locals."
You don't need to finish one bowl of Biang Biang's noodles before you start thinking about the next bowl.
There are plenty of enticing options on the menu but Feng recommends first-timers try Biang Biang noodles with chilli, which sees the signature wide, chewy noodles topped with extra soft, slow-cooked pork and vegetables and just the right amount of firepower. It doesn't burn you to the point of pain but you will be reaching for a cold drink (ideally a beer – take advantage of the Chinatown branch's BYO permit) as you eat.
According to Feng, this is also the dish that everyone from Xi'an orders when they visit "because they can tell if the restaurant is quality just from that one dish".
The noodles with chunky cubes of beef are popular, too, and I'm a huge fan of ordering a cold noodle dish for an entree before the noodle main. The "original cold noodle" with beancurd, sprouts and a tonne of garlic and chilli is a must.
Rougamo, a Shaanxi snack of flaky pastry filled with tender pork or beef, has been popping up all over Sydney lately (it's generally what you'll get if you ever see a "pulled pork burger" on the menu at a noodle joint), but Biang Biang's rougamo are the flakiest and best I've tried.
"The method of cooking we use takes much longer but the dough is crispy outside and juicy inside because of it."
I've been told that the dumplings are excellent, too, but I haven't been able to resist ordering an extra bowl of noodles instead, and I'm definitely not the only one.
"Since our first Biang Biang opening, if we connect together all of the Biang Biang noodles sold, the length equals the distance between Sydney and Perth," boasts Feng. "Maybe Australians like it because it's like pasta. They're very similar; there is a connection between Chinese and Italian food and culture."
Biang Biang's rapid expansion has meant many new challenges for Feng and his team to overcome. But I'm 100 per cent here for it. Being able to get noodles this good in a suburban food court is the fast food future I've always dreamed of.
Address Shop 39, 1 Dixon Street, Haymarket, 02 9261 2745. Also in Burwood, Broadway, Chatswood and Parramatta.
Bottom line Noodles $10-$13.
Must-order dish Biang Biang noodles topped with chilli, $10.50.