What most intrigued me about this spot, other than the decor of all low kiddie-sized tables and chairs, was the Shaanxi rice wine. It was slightly sweet, almost non-alcoholic, and immensely more drinkable than the stronger rice wines I’ve tasted. (Obvious disclaimer: I am not a fan of Chinese rice wine.) It reminded me somewhat of horchata, or makgeolli, though Sandra puts describes it best on her website as “a grown-up’s version of soybean milk.”
Most people who have experienced street food in Beijing, Shanghai, or Xi’an will recognize roujiamo, a Shaanxi specialty consisting of a pita-like bun filled with fatty pork and shredded vegetables. The version at Qin Tang Fu is much bigger than street versions, and contains no chili sauce. In the front window, however, you can watch the cooks knead the buns and bake them on a coal-heated drum.
Shaanxi food is also known for its liberal use of vinegar and garlic. Chewy hand-pulled noodles and wide flat spinach noodles both come doused with vinegar, garlic, and optional chili sauce. Vegetables are frequently doused with vinegar and garlic. (Note to anyone contemplating this place for a first date: NO.) The favorite dish of the night was a star anise braised chicken dish that, although much uglier than in the picture menu, was so tender and juicy neither of us cared.