Big Dan Shanxi Taste honored by the James Beard Foundation

The James Beard Foundation Award nomination process is shrouded in mystery, which is how the band likes to operate. For Hongrui Chen, learning that her family restaurant had been named a semi-finalist in the Best Restaurant and Chef category by the prestigious group was also a bit confusing, especially since she hadn’t heard of the organization or of its coveted annual awards.

His Chinatown restaurant — whose name loosely translates to Big Dan Shanxi Taste — is tucked away in the Shun Fat supermarket at Pacific Asian Plaza on Spring Mountain Road. The menu isn’t extensive, but once tasted, it instantly reveals how the out-of-the-way restaurant has caught the eye of Beard’s culinary experts. The fragrant, spicy flavors replicate those found in the city of Xi’an in northwest China, where Chen lived with her husband, Peter Xing, son Daniel Xing and daughter Dan Xing before moving to Las Vegas .

No. 11, special noodle in hot oil.  (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
No. 11, special noodle in hot oil. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

For starters, Daniel recommends menu options #1 (cold noodles), #3 (Chinese pork burger), and #11 (special hot oil noodles). The noodles in #11 are biangbiang mian, an extraordinarily wide and long style of pasta that is sometimes referred to as “belt noodles” because of their substantial shape. In addition, he also recommends a can of imported orange soda, which is how the dish is served in Shanxi. Other beverage selections include traditional hot herbal tea, refreshing iced tea, tangy homemade plum juice, and Peking yogurt. Other authentic Xi’an delicacies include cumin flavored beef; lamb haggis soup; grated wheat gluten with special sauce; spicy lamb intestine noodles, braised shell noodles; refried bean jelly and noodles in hot oil with tomatoes and eggs.

The family’s kitchen has many devoted fans, including two women who flew their own plane from Texas to dine on the family’s tasty dishes.

Peter Xing said opening the grocery store four years ago helped the operation weather the COVID crisis as shoppers came to shop and then eat, strengthening both businesses.

“When they order something, there’s a 15-minute wait, so they can go shopping,” Daniel said, translating from his father’s Mandarin. On their return, gluttony awaits them.

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Post expires at 8:40pm on Wednesday June 29th, 2022