Chongqing Xiao Mien on Kearny

Great Saigon (next door to House of Nanking) has a new awning.

The inside of the restaurant and the menu items on the window don’t look to have changed at all yet (and the light in the soda cabinet was still on) although I was outside too early to see whether they were still open.

Good spotting.

Possible interesting twist here: the last active liquor license for that address (915 Kearny) was owned by someone named David Deng, which also happens to be the name of the (former?) owner of Terra Cotta Warrior. The license expired in 2010, but Deng may still own the business, and be behind the new incarnation.

http://goo.gl/NMfsuS

I’m in the neighborhood almost daily, and I’ll be on top of this one for sure.

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Chongqing Xiao Mian is slated to open TOMORROW (6/16).

I wandered by and the door was open. so I wandered in. The new decor seemed all in place; all that remains for the transition is to pull down the Vietnam signage (and a pictorial mural of Vietnam on one wall). There was a couple doing some last minute work on the kitchen, and the friendly round-faced man told me they would open tomorrow, serving Chongqing and Sichuan food.

I picked up a copy of the menu. ; it’s nicely priced, one can grab a bowl of noodles and an appetizer for around $15 or less before T&T.

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The menu you just posted has many of the same stock photos as Spicy King /Queen / spicy empire and Hunan house/grand hot pot, which were started by chefs from the former. However, the menu is much smaller than what is available at the other places.

You are right, the menus look similar. Interesting that while the noodle prices are the same at Chongqing Xiao Mian as at (for xample) Spicy Queen, the apps are priced much lower at the former. They may be sized for individual diners. CQXM is a prototypical mian guan, focused on noodles and side dishes, and more oriented toward the single diner. It’s a more inviting place to enjoy just a bowl of noodles than a full-service restaurant, where one might feel like a piker for not ordering more elaborate dishes.

BTW, note the disclaimer at the bottom of each page, “Parts of the cuisine in this menu are probably not the same as the photos they are shown.”

Says ‘6th branch’ on the menu, above the phone number.

Great catch!

6th branch? What’s the 5th? I know of 5 open ones and 1 closed location. Chongqing Xiao Mien, Spicy Queen, Spicy King, and defunct Pot Sticker have “麻辣一品” (first-rate numbing spicy, I think) listed on the cover of their menus. Spicy Empire only says “麻辣” and I don’t know what Newark Cafe (ed., thanks, @souperman) says. Chongqing Xiao Mien is their 6th if they count defunct Pot Sticker, or they operate another restaurant that’s not been identified as theirs.

Newark Cafe?

The Chinese name they gave thy Pot Sticker after they took it over was Ma La Yi Pin, so I guess it was #1 in retrospect.

Handy to have someone around who can actually read Chinese.

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Went for lunch with a coworker, getting there shortly after 12.

Place was 80% full with a family, some grannies, and some office workers.

We ordered spicy beef noodle soup, chong qing small noodle, and beef/tripe combo.

Beef noodle soup:
Broth was well seasoned with chilis and Sichuan peppercorns, and beef stock. The burn was mostly from the Sichuan peppercorns which was nice as it made it easier to continue eating.

Noodles - a very large portion of noodles, thin, uniform, and unfortunately overcooked, for my tastes - too soft and without enough bite. Surprising given that my bowl came out just minutes after I ordered.

Beef - tender, not dry, not fatty, unexpected as a lot of beef noodle soup that I’ve had in the US tend to be dry&dense.

Coworker enjoyed his chong qing xiao mian, served with far less broth than mine but the same quantity of noodles. It seemed to be much spicier than mine based on coworker’s facial expressions, I didn’t not taste as I’m fending off a cold.

Lastly, the beef/tripe combo was decent though I’m not sure I could distinguish flavors too much given the numbing sensation from the soup. We ordered that because they weren’t serving either the sweet / our ribs or the basil chicken.

Chili oil/sauce is provided in very large bamboo containers on the table, lots of sesame, black bean, oil, hit the right notes for me but not super spicy - smoky, a bit sweet, savory, crunchy.

We saw other tables order scallion pancakes, steamed yu choy, pig intestine noodle soup, pigs foot noodle soup.

Service was a bit haphazard, two middle aged ladies taking and serving, one cook and one dishwasher. Definitely some confusion between front and back of house at some point.

Will be back to try other items on the menu, hope they get the noodle consistency down right, would also be better if they served smaller portions for a buck or two less.

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Someone else’s order?

I was there around 2:00 to vet the namesake dish and had no problems with it, including the noodles, which were al dente. I did find the quantity of noodles staggering, but come on, a buck or two less than $7.95??

$9.95 for beef noodle soup, the quantity of noodles in just way too much, no one is working in the rice fields or walking hours to and from work to need to eat that much in a single serving. And to eat all those noodles before they wither might be tough for a lot of people.

I agree, they are far too generous with the noodle quantity. But even with a noodle portion a third to a half lower, the prices would still be reasonable, especially compared to what ramen joints charge these days for a far less substantial product.

I would pay for a half serving for $2 less for example, I don’t want to order the regular size and then leave half of it uneaten, wasting the soup and noodles, generating more waste, etc.

As a rational consumer, does it make sense to pay full price for a half portion?

On the flip side, if they do charge 7.95 for a half portion, then a full portion would be what, $12?

Fun question about pricing for half orders.

Most restaurants target 30 ~ 33% of menu price for food cost. For a half portion of a $9.95 item, they are spending say $1.50 less on ingredients. The other costs (server labor/cook/electricity/gas/fixed costs) will remain the same regardless of half order or full order. Thus, a fair adjusted half portion cost would be $9.95 - $1.50 = $8.45. Does that sound right?

Well, for one thing I’m not sure that 30-33% would hold at the rock-bottom pricing end of the spectrum. Also, in this instance (at least for the Chongqing xiao mian) we are talking about fewer noodles only, not less of the other ingredients. Kind of a reverse kaedama.

I would be ok with reducing quantity of soup and beef as well, why bother drowning the noodles.

Though to your point about the actual dish of CQXM at CQXM, there’s much less sauce/broth anyways.

You are most likely correct about the food costs being lower for bottom end of the pricing spectrum.

Your answer brings up this point. Since noodles are a cheap ingredient, maybe 20 ~ 30c cost for each order, at most? If they lower the price by $2 for a half order, by leaving out 30c of ingredient, they’re not doing themselves any favors.

However, if they reduce the quantity of beef and soup (as suggested by mzhu) as well, they can discount accordingly.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold