If you frequent popular cooking channels on Youtube, you might have noticed a particular noodle in the spotlight. They’re thick, hand-ripped, and traditionally topped with a delicious chili oil sauce.
Sound familiar? They’re ‘Biang Biang’ noodles, hailing from Xi’an in central China.
That is to say, if you’re anywhere near the food side of Youtube, you’ve almost definitely seen these noodles.
So what are Biang Biang noodles? And what makes them so popular?
Biang Biang noodles, also known in Chinese as ‘油泼扯面’ (youpo chemian), are a kind of noodle from Shaanxi province in China.
They’re sometimes compared to a belt because of how thick and wide they are. Their appearance is owed to the hand-pulling style of making them.
These noodles are nothing new to their native China, but over the past year, their presence has exploded. Scores of Youtube channels have made videos on their sudden popularity.
‘The Hand-Ripped Noodle Empire that Took over NYC’, a video by Eater, sheds some light on this sudden change. The video is about a restaurant in New York City known as Xi’an Famous Foods.
It was founded in 2005 as a family-run business serving authentic Xi’an cuisine.
“It wasn’t even about making food back then,” Xi’an Famous Food’s co-owner Jason Wang says about their beginning. “We kind of miss this food ourselves and we want to eat it at home.”
Soon, the food they were making became so popular that people began to take trips to that part of the city to try it. Now, with 12 locations all around New York, they’re serving Xi’an cuisine to a cult following.
Their original customer base was Chinese immigrants who wanted to eat familiar food. Now they serve all kinds of people, some of whom may have never even heard of Xi’an.
Biang Biang noodles are one of their most popular dishes, and that made people curious. Suddenly, people wanted to know how to make them at home.
Especially people from areas that don’t have a restaurant like Xi’an Famous Foods. Cue tens upon tens of Youtube videos teaching people how to do exactly that.
It’s not only the delicious taste of the noodles that draws people in, but also the unique style of making them.
‘Biang’ is actually an onomatopoeia. It’s the sound the noodles make when you slap them against the working surface to shape them.
Fun fact: It also happens to be the most complex Chinese character, with 56 strokes!
The sudden popularity of Biang Biang noodles is simple. It’s delicious, authentic Chinese food that also happens to be a whole lot of fun to make.
Chinese food in America hasn’t always been the most authentic. Restaurants like Xi’an Famous Foods are bringing China’s delicious cuisine into the spotlight.
Hopefully, Biang Biang noodles are only the first step in bringing more of China’s authentic dishes to the West!
Happy cooking (and eating)!