QQ mini Hot Pot Is a Hot Spot for Noodles in a Grocery Store

Spicy and tingly beef biang biang noodles: not so spicy and tingly, but you can add additional chili sauce

Spicy and tingly beef biang biang noodles: not so spicy and tingly, but you can add additional chili sauce

Last week, Seattle Weekly ran my peek at Biang! (their exclamation point) in Edmonds, where a bowl of hot oil seared biang biang noodles remains the dish I most crave in the Seattle area. For those who don’t want to make the trek north, there’s a restaurant called QQ mini Hot Pot in the University District that’s serving up the same noodles right here in Seattle.

QQ leases space inside Woori Market, a little Korean grocery store on University Way. Here you’ll find XiaoLi Wu, who went to China to learn how to prepare a number of Xi’an dishes to satisfy the local UW students, and others craving the cuisine. As at Biang, her staff arrives early to prepare various types of dough for the noodles, dumplings, and sandwiches on offer at QQ.

So how does QQ compare to Biang?

The menus are quite similar, with pricing generally cheaper at QQ, though the portion sizes seem a little smaller. (The hot oil seared biang biang noodles are less expensive at Biang.) Biang is a full-service, sit-down restaurant, while QQ has you order at the counter and then seat yourself in the “makeshift” dining room. Service is friendly and helpful at both places.

QQ’s hot oil seared biang biang noodles

QQ’s hot oil seared biang biang noodles

QQ’s hot oil seared noodles have more of a vinegar flavor—absent in Biang’s bowl. (The vinegar didn’t do much for me, though others might like it.) There are also bean sprouts, with watery content that has a diluting effect on the chili pepper. And while Wu boasted about using the highest quality flour for the noodles, I actually preferred the chewy texture of Biang’s noodles. Verdict: While I wouldn’t turn down a bowl of QQ’s hot oil seared noodles; Biang’s are worth the extra drive.

Liang pi “cold skin” noodles

Liang pi “cold skin” noodles

As at Biang, QQ’s biang biang noodles come with a variety of toppings, though I maintain that oil-seared is the best way to appreciate them. There are also liang pi noodles, again more vinegary than Biang’s version. QQ continues to tinker with the menu to add non-Xi’an options based on popular appeal. The regular menu, for example, contains “heartbreak spicy and sour noodles in soup”—a Sichuan-style dish. And there’s a list of specials, a recent one being a noodle dish with intestines.

Spicy cumin beef burger and stewed pork burger

Spicy cumin beef burger and stewed pork burger

I did prefer QQ’s sandwiches, or what they call burgers. Wu was unapologetic in explaining that QQ’s bun is deliberately moister than the traditional bun, which she and her customers find a little too dry. I also like that cumin lamb is an option here, though she steered me to cumin beef, explaining that cumin lamb is designed for Western appeal. (I’ve not been to Xi’an, but there was plenty of cumin lamb when I was in Shanghai.)

QQ mini Hot Pot is a welcome addition to Seattle’s Chinese food scene. After the closing of the Shi’An restaurant on Lake City Way, it’s good to again see Shaanxi cuisine (and any diversified Chinese cuisine, really) in Seattle again. And, yes, QQ also offers miniature hot pots, malatang-style. Grab desired ingredients on display and collect them in a basket, and they’ll be brought to your table brimming in hot broth. Added bonus: While Biang has a Singaporean grocery store just next door, QQ puts you right in the middle of a Korean market for shopping convenience.

QQ Mini Hot Pot on Urbanspoon

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