As we expounded upon our new love for youpo mian, Laura Jean McKay suggested that we give Melbourne's Xi'an Famous a go. This mini-chain has outlets in the CBD, Carlton and Caulfield, and we figured the CBD one would be a convenient dinner stop before settling in for a MIFF movie.
Online reviews warned us that this isn't a place for vegetarians, but we noticed a solid choice or two in each section of the menu: hot and cold rice or wheat noodles with chilli or sesame; a vegetable or egg burger; little fried pancakes and pies; vegetable dumplings; and cold dishes like chilli oil bean curd and shredded potato.
But we were here to test out the big bowls of noodles! Ensuring we had some variation on the youpo mian, I ordered the tomato and egg noodle ($12.80). It was enormous, with a very mild and almost milky broth, plenty of tomato and egg fragments floating through, and a large submerged mass of noodles (the same as the ones below). The overall effect was a bit bland and soupy, and yet again I was jealous of Michael's superior order!
He had, of course, the youpo mian - called spicy hot oil seared hand ripped noodles ($12.80) in English on the menu. The garlic-chilli dressing was exactly what we fondly recalled from our couple of bowls in China. I was again tentative about the chilli intensity, but it was well within my tolerance. The noodles, though, were a bit of a let-down: far from the wide flat belts we loved, these were more thick and slender and thus, much chewier.
This eatery has a casual, help-yourself style; the staff confirmed with us what was vegetarian and were quick to turn around the food. While this wasn't quite the youpo mian we're yearning for, I'd gladly return to order it (and maybe some of the other fried things!) again.
260 Russell St, Melbourne
noodles; noodles & fried things; soups, noodles & dumplings; cold dishes & drinks
Accessibility: There's a small step on entry. Inside, furniture is a mixture of low tables with backed chairs and high tables with stools; they're densely arranged with a clear corridor through the middle (see photos above). We ordered and paid at a low counter. We didn't visit the toilets.