Chinese food is still growing in an exciting direction in Tucson. With exceptional Hunan, Sichuan, and Guangdong specialty restaurants sprouting over the past year, Shaanxi cuisine is making a proper debut at Fatman Kitchen.
The restaurant at 2610 N. First Ave. previously housed Chinese restaurant Impress Hot Pot.
Fatman Kitchen owner Rosey He moved to Tucson a few months ago from Huntington Beach, California. The restaurant features one chef specializing in Sichuan cuisine and one chef specializing in Shaanxi cuisine.
Shaanxi, a northern province in China (not to be confused with its neighbor Shanxi), is known for its use of mutton, lamb, pork, and savory flavors.
The restaurant's interior still features some of the same decor as Impress, along with the hot pot tables. The walls are now painted teal and green, providing a slightly fresher look.
While hot pot isn't on the menu right now, it will eventually make its way on, Rosey said. Don't worry about it anyways, since the house-made noodles are the star.
For the star dish, you can't get anywhere else in town, order the Xian Oil Splashing Noodle. The hand-stretched wide noodles resemble pappardelle pasta, but stretchier and sometimes two feet long. Mix it up when you receive it to ensure the chili oil, raw garlic, scallions, and bean sprouts get evenly dispersed. Season to taste with the table-side jar of Chinese black vinegar if you wish.
If you want something on the Sichuan side, order the Pan Fried Lamb with Cumin. With a generous amount of peppers, it's one of the spicier renditions in town. Furthermore, the portion of lamb is generous.
To cool off between all these spicy dishes, make sure to order Cucumber with Garlic Sauce; but skip the chili peppers to save your tongue.
Be aware that dishes come out as they are finished, which may not be the sequence they were ordered. Both times we visited, it was only Rosey serving tables. However, she's friendly, helpful, and easy to communicate with.
Fatman Kitchen is located at 2610 N. First Ave. For more information, call (520) 882-3059.
Jackie Tran is a Tucson-based food writer, photographer, culinary educator, and owner-chef of the food truck Tran's Fats. Although he...