First came the hand-drawn vermicelli, then the soup dumplings, bubble tea, and ramen.
Philly's Chinatown has been slowly but surely acquiring a number of Asian street foods that are the stuff of obsession elsewhere.
The latest arrivals, popularized by Xi'an Famous Foods in New York, are these Xi'an liang pi noodles at the two-month-old Happy Noodle Bar on Race Street. Yes, the Chinese "burger" might catch more eyes, its zesty minced pork and chiles sandwiched between what looks like a Chinese English muffin.
But these pappardelle-like ribbons of hand-pulled wheat dough are worth the pilgrimage on their own. Tossed with a spicy chile-oil sauce typical of Xi'an, an ancient city in central China, these noodles give a fruity heat without the numbing spice of more popular Sichuan fare.
Topped with a tender fan of thin-sliced beef, one bowl makes a hearty, flavorful meal.
- Craig LaBan
Xi'an liang pi, $5.99, Happy Noodle Bar, 927 Race St. Information: 215-625-0133.