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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Hand-Rolled Noodles Make House of Xian Dumpling Worth It

Posted By on Wed, Oct 9, 2013 at 10:00 AM

click to enlarge PETE KANE
  • Pete Kane

Sometimes, a "soft opening" means "please don't bad-mouth us on Yelp while we figure out what's not working here," and sometimes it means, "we don't have half the menu yet." For House of Xian Dumpling, just across Kearny Street from Café Zoetrope where Chinatown meets North Beach, it's the latter.

The overly vegetal boiled chive and pork dumplings -- and the underwhelming, empanada-like green onion pancake -- augured poorly for the meal to come, considering that "dumpling" is in the restaurant's name and all. But this lunch was one of those experiences where each dish is better than the one before, sometimes by a wide margin.

click to enlarge The chive and pork pancake fell a bit flat. - PETE KANE
  • Pete Kane
  • The chive and pork pancake fell a bit flat.

click to enlarge The pig ear, by contrast, was superb. - PETE KANE
  • Pete Kane
  • The pig ear, by contrast, was superb.

Either you're a fan of offal or you're not, but so often baroque is the right direction. A plate of cold shredded pig ear, fatty and studded with cilantro, could have been the fountain from which Mission Chinese sprang, while the pork knuckle noodle soup showcased the work of the in-house noodle-maker positioned in the dining room. Springy and delightful, the noodles curled around those knobby, nutritious bits of tendon in a perfect bowl of comfort food. As a final offering, the salt-and-pepper chicken wings were easily among the best in the city, crispy and perfectly seasoned -- and at ten for $5.95, you might never look to Wing Wings again.

Alas, the service was iffy. Water was not offered, condiments weren't on every table, and the pot of complimentary tea disappeared barely fifteen minutes on. Plus, while you can order online for pick-up, House of Xian doesn't deliver. But if you can tolerate some (inexpensive) misses in exchange for a couple bulls-eyes, lunch here could be a true adventure.

House of Xian Dumpling, 925 Kearny St., (415) 398-1626

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About The Author

Pete Kane

Pete Kane

Pete Kane is a total gaylord who is trying to get to every national park before age 40


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