On the west side of Oracle Road, just across the street from the Tucson Mall and north of Auto Mall Drive is a small south facing strip mall that you probably didn't realize was there. In fact, if you're heading north, you really can't even see it since it's not facing Oracle. In that strip mall is Mian Sichuan. (No relation to the now closed Mian Sushi. The word Mian literally translates to 'noodles.')
Opened, owned, and operated by husband and wife Xin and Qi Wang, Mian Sichuan offers a condensed menu of Chinese noodles and street food snacks.
And while this is Xin's first restaurant, he's no novice when it comes to making phenomenal noodles. He was able to hone his old family noodle recipes while working in IT positions with various large corporations around the US.
"Our team of 20-30 people would have small parties where we'd all bring homemade food or store bought," said Xin. "I always brought a really big stock pot of noodles. People were scared to try it at first, but once they tried the noodles, they loved it. And they wanted more. Same thing happened at my next IT job. That's when I realized I could make really good noodles."
When Qi got accepted to the University of Arizona's MIS program, one of the top-rated programs in the US, it necessitated a move to Tucson. And after long, heartfelt conversations with family and coworkers and some deep soul searching, Xin decided it was time to follow his dreams of opening a small restaurant instead of finding a new job in I.T.
Xin takes making great noodles - and continuously improving upon them - very seriously. He's traveled all over the globe sampling noodles. Guests say his noodles have a home-made flavor. He also brings some of the processes he learned working in I.T. to the noodle shop.
"We look at online reviews closely and ask customers directly about the spice level, saltiness, oiliness, texture, portion size and constantly update based on feedback," said Xin.
While Mian Sichuan offers around 6 different noodle bowls, those 6 bowls can be categorized into two types: traditional, Xin's creations. Within those varieties are noodle soups and dry noodles, as well as vegetarian options. So, while the menu only lists 6 different noodle bowls, they're all available in vegetarian and vegan options.
Volcano Noodle Soup - Sesame soup based noodle with chili oil. Topping with minced beef, green onion, fresh vegetables, sliced beef, and American cheese.
Shoyu Noodle Soup - A noodle soup with mixed sauce containing shoyu paste, soy sauce, and minced beef. Topping with green onion, vegetables, and sliced beef.
Chongqing Noodle Soup - Soy sauce soup based noodle with Sichuan chili oil. Topping with minced beef, green onion, fresh greens, and Chili paste.
Dan Dan Noodle - A dry noodle with spicy sauce containing sesame paste, ya cai, chili oil, Sichuan pepper, minced beef, and green onion over the noodles.
Beijing Jajangmyeon - A dry noodle with mixed sauce containing soy paste and minced beef. Topping wirh green onion and cucumbers.
Additionally, two noodles soup bowls are being added soon: Pepper Corn Beef Rice Noodle and Spicy & Sour Sweet Potato Noodle.
While noodles are the star at Mian Sichuan, a variety of street-style snacks are also available. Be sure to try the Deep Fried Beef Skewer. It's an old family recipe that Xin's uncle has made and sold in one of China's night markets for over 20 years.
Kimchi - Spicy Pickled Napa Cabbage.
Zhacai - Pickled kohlrabi. Commonly eaten with noodles in China.
Wasabi Chicken - Boneless Chicken Wings, wasabi-mayo topping.
Beef Skewers - Deep Fried Beef Skewer, street food style.
Fish Balls - Deep fried, real fish meat.
Fish Tofu - crisp outside, chewy inside.
Lobster Balls - Real lobster meat.
Chicken Chop - Large fried chicken patties.
For now, there's no liquor or beer. And there's no final decision on if they'll head in that direction or not. But there are plenty of great noodles to try and street eats to snack on.