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One Bowl of No.25 & a Side of Life Alternation Please!


Written By Evie Richardson (she/her) @evi3m4y | Contributing Writer

The word ‘life-changing’ isn't one I use lightly, however, we can all agree that there are a few things that are legitimately life-changing: having a baby, committing to a long-term partner, moving overseas, a new job. Strolling down Dominion Rd on a muggy Tuesday afternoon and stumbling into an understated noodle bar with the simple aim of filling a gnawing hunger isn’t something that quite fits into the ‘life-changing’ category. Yet here I am, nearly one year later, a lot happier and a lot more full of noodles. Life changing? Maybe not. But slightly life-altering? Most definitely.

This legendary place I’m gushing over is Xi’an Food Bar. Unfortunately, I can’t take each and every one of you reading this there right now, so instead I’ll paint you a picture. Imagine: a crimson sign, branded with the most stock-standard font possible, greets your arrival. The sign is mirrored by a feature wall - which is not so much of a feature after being decorated with television screens that never seem to be on. If you glance upwards, you’ll be greeted with the grandeur of ornate cornices and a naff chandelier. Tilt your head back down, and you’ll be staring at a sea of linoleum tabletops and plastic chairs. Despite my love for the mismatched, it’s not this juxtaposing décor that gives Xi’an its life-altering status. It’s what you’re there for: the food.

I’d like to preface that this is the furthest thing from a restaurant review, simply because it’d be quite difficult to review a restaurant where I’ve only ever ordered one thing. I can assure you I’m not normally that sort of person: I’m usually a “life is made for experiences so why not experience them all”, blah blah blah and so on sort of person.

However, on that muggy Tuesday in March when I took my first mouthful of no.25 (hand-pulled noodles with spicy chilli oil and veges, by menu definition) I knew I had tasted the most delicious thing to enter my mouth to date and it would probably remain that way for the rest of my days.

If you’ve never had the pleasure of eating hand-pulled noodles, you’re doing yourself a disservice. In fact, the oldest evidence of Chinese noodles throws us back 4,000 years – so you’re already four millennia late. Hand-pulled noodles, or lamian, originated in northern China and quickly traveled their way west to become a signature dish of the city Xi’an, the restaurant’s namesake. Every noodle is decadently chewy, thick, and unique in form.

The chilli oil on top is the cherry on the cake. Every time I eat at Xi’an, I jest to whoever I’m dining with that one day I will smuggle out a container of the complimentary oil (I’m yet to succeed in this mission).

I quickly decided this was an addiction I wanted to share, so I seized every opportunity I had. Every new friend made, flatmate gained, or visit from a non-Aucklander was sure to involve a trip to Xi’an. The feedback was always the same: life changing.

Of course, I’m sure we’re prone to exaggeration in our state of noodle-induced delirium; but Xi’an food bar has truly altered my life. In a sort of Rachel-from-Friends-esque way, I’d like to call it my (much shabbier and featuring far less comfortable seating) Central Perk. A place to gather, something to share, a destination in a relatively new city that even among all the other diners feels like mine.

The noodles have altered my life by instilling a constant sense of dissatisfaction in me every time I eat something that’s not them. But really, it’s just nice to look at my flatmates and say “Hey, do you want to go to Xi’an today?” and know they’ll be jumping in the car before the sentence is finished.

So if you’ve gained one thing from reading this, I hope that you immediately head to 650 Dominion Road, 11 Anzac Ave, or the variety of other locations available at, strut through the foggy glass doors plastered with laminated menus and order a big bowl of no.25. Prepare to have your life altered.

Illustrations by Eris Mardi (they/them) | Contributing Illustrator


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