Xian bing is a flaky meat pie from Northern China, roughly the diameter of a compact disc, heftier than a regulation-size ice hockey puck, and often, but not always, filled with a mix of ground meat and chopped scallions. This is the specialty of Beijing Pie House, where they come four to an order, stuffed with, among other fillings, lamb, pork, and radish. The menu will warn you that they’ll be hot, and the server will, too, and your phone camera probably will capture the wisps of smoke emanating from the pie. But no matter how long it will take to apply the appropriate filter and Instagram the shot, it won’t be nearly long enough, because, inevitably, the filling inside, in addition to being juicy and delicious, will be hotter than you expected, and you’ll probably have to point your chopsticks in the direction of the cold cucumbers or shredded cabbage for a brief reprieve. Through all that, you may find that you actually prefer this meat pie to most dumplings. You wouldn’t be the only one. — TN
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