Biangbiang noodles

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Biangbiang noodles
Biang Biang Mian.jpg
TypeChinese noodles
Place of originChina
Region or stateShaanxi
Biangbiang noodles
Traditional ChineseBiáng.svgBiáng.svg
Simplified ChineseBiang (简体).svgBiang (简体).svg
Hanyu Pinyinbiángbiángmiàn
Alternative Chinese name
Traditional Chinese油潑扯麵
Simplified Chinese油泼扯面
Hanyu Pinyinyóupō chěmiàn

Biangbiang noodles, alternatively known as youpo chemian in Chinese, are a type of noodles popular in the cuisine of China's Shaanxi Province. The noodles, touted as one of the "eight strange wonders of Shaanxi" (陕西八大怪), are described as being like a belt, owing to their thickness and length.

The noodle is broad and hand-made. It was originally part of a poor man's meal in the countryside, but has recently become renowned due to the unique character used in its name.[1]

Dishes with this noodle are often topped with lots of red hot peppers for the cold winter in Shaanxi.

Chinese character for biáng[edit]

The Traditional character for biáng in calligraphic regular script
The Traditional character for biáng in a Song font
The Simplified character for biáng in a Song font
American singer and TV personality in China Slater Rhea (帅德) writes and explains a biáng character on Xi'an TV.

Made up of 58 strokes in its traditional form[Note 1] (42 in simplified Chinese), the Chinese character for biáng is one of the most complex Chinese characters in modern usage,[2] although the character is not found in modern dictionaries or even in the Kangxi dictionary.

The character is composed of (speak; 7 strokes) in the middle flanked by (tiny; 2×3 strokes) on both sides. Below it, (horse; 10 strokes) is similarly flanked by (grow; 2×8 strokes). This central block itself is surrounded by (moon; 4 strokes) to the left, (heart; 4 strokes) below, and (knife; 2 strokes) to the right. These in turn are surrounded by a second layer of characters, namely (cave; 5 strokes) on the top and (walk; 4 strokes[Note 1]) curving around the left and bottom.

Phonetic substitution[edit]

Neither the traditional nor the simplified Chinese characters for biáng are yet encoded in Unicode, so there is no standardized way of entering or representing them on computers. However, both traditional and simplified forms have been submitted to the Ideographic Rapporteur Group for inclusion in CJK Unified Ideographs Extension G.[3] As the characters are not yet encoded, phonetic substitutes like 彪彪面 (biāobiāomiàn) or 冰冰面 (bīngbīngmiàn) are often used instead.

The character is described by the following ideographic description sequences (IDSs):[4]

⿺‌辶⿳穴⿰月⿰⿲⿱幺長⿱言馬⿱幺長刂心 (traditional)
⿺‌辶⿳穴⿰月⿰⿲⿱幺长⿱言马⿱幺长刂心 (simplified)

In Adobe's Source Han Sans and Source Han Serif font these IDS sequences do not display as IDS sequences, but display the actual glyphs for the character.[5][6]


The character has yet to be added to the Unicode Standard, but the traditional and simplified forms are included in the draft for the CJK Unified Ideographs Extension G block, which is scheduled for inclusion in the 6th edition of ISO/IEC 10646, tentatively corresponding to Unicode 13.0 (due for release in March 2020).[7][8]


Animated GIF showing the stroke order of the Traditional character for biáng according to the mnemonic, not according to the principles of stroke order. Note that the element 馬 has erroneously been given its Japanese stroke order.

There are a number of mnemonics used by Shaanxi residents to aid recall of how the character is written.

One version runs as follows:

Pinyin English translation
一點上了天 一点上了天 Yīdiǎn shàngle tiān Apex rising up to the sky,
黃河兩道彎 黄河两道弯 Huáng Hé liǎng dào wān Over Two bends by Yellow River's side.
八字大張口 八字大张口 Bāzì dà zhāngkǒu Character "Eight"'s () opening wide,
言字往進走 言字往进走 Yán zì wǎng jìn zǒu "Speech" () enters inside.
你一扭 我一扭 你一扭 我一扭 Nǐ yī niǔ, wǒ yī niǔ You twist, I twist too, ( 'tiny')
你一長 我一長 你一长 我一长 Nǐ yī zhǎng, wǒ yī zhǎng you grow, I grow () with you,
當中加個馬大王 当中加个马大王 Dāngzhōng jiā gè mǎ dàwáng Inside, a horse () king will rule.
心字底 心字底 Xīn zì dǐ "Heart" () down below,
月字旁 月字旁 Yuè zì páng "Moon" () by the side,
留個釣搭掛麻糖 留个钓搭挂麻糖 Liú ge diào dā guà má tang Leave a hook ( 'knife') for Matang (Mahua, Fried Dough Twist) to hang low,
坐著車車逛咸陽 坐着车车逛咸阳 Zuòzhe chēchē guàng Xiányáng On our carriage, to Xianyang we'll ride (radical: 'walk').

Note that the first two lines probably refer to the character (roof), building it up systematically as a point and a line (river) with two bends.

Origin of the character[edit]

BiangBiang restaurant.
A Xi'an biangbiangmian restaurant. The Traditional character for biáng is combined with the Simplified character for miàn.

The origins of the biangbiang noodles and the character biáng are unclear. In one version of the story, the character biáng was invented by the Qin Dynasty Premier Li Si. However, since the character is not found in the Kangxi Dictionary, it may have been created much later than the time of Li Si. Similar characters were found used by Tiandihui.

In the 2007 season of the TVB show The Web (一網打盡), the show's producers tried to find the origin of the character by contacting university professors, but they could not verify the Li Si story or the origin of the character. It was concluded that the character was invented by a noodle shop.[clarification needed]

One hypothesis is that there was no such character or meaning for this word in the beginning, and the word actually came from the sound people make from chewing the noodles, "biang biang biang".

A legend about a student fabricating a character for the noodle to get out of a biangbiang noodle bill also is a commonly-believed hypothesis about the origin of the character.[9]

According to an article on China Daily, the word "biang" actually refers to the sound made by the chef when he creates the noodles by pulling the dough and slapping it on the table.[10]


Biángbiángmiàn in Traditional characters. With exception of the fourth and fifth strokes, the variant of biáng used is the same as the third variant on the list.

Fifteen variants of the Traditional character for biáng, having between 56 and 70[Note 2] strokes:

Biáng.svg Biáng-v1.svg Biáng-v13.svg Biáng-v10.svg Biáng-v12.svg Biáng-v11.svg Biáng-v4.svg Biáng-v5.svg Biáng-v14.svg Biáng-v2.svg Biáng-v6.svg Biáng-v7.svg Biáng-v8.svg Biáng-v9.svg Biáng-v3.svg


  1. ^ a b The radical has only three strokes instead of four according to Mainland Chinese rules, so the traditional character is written with only 57 strokes there. This is reflected in the graphics of the Song style character and the stroke order animation to the right.
  2. ^ The radical has only three strokes instead of four according to Mainland Chinese rules, so the variant with 70 strokes is written with only 69 strokes there. This is reflected in the graphics of the characters below.


  1. ^ "A taste of Xi'an in North London". Fuchsia Dunlop. Retrieved 2016-06-14.
  2. ^ "What is the Most Complex Chinese Character?". Mental Floss. Retrieved 2016-06-14.
  3. ^ UTC Character Submission for 2015 by the Unicode Consortium
  4. ^ See Unicode Technical Report #45 and associated data File, UTC-00791. The file references this Wikipedia article as a primary source and a reason for inclusion.
  5. ^ Lunde, Ken (April 8, 2017), "Designing & Implementing Biáng", CJK Type Blog, Adobe, retrieved December 30, 2017
  6. ^ Lunde, Ken (November 19, 2018), Source Han Sans Version 2.000 (PDF), Adobe, retrieved November 21, 2018
  7. ^ "Additional repertoire for ISO/IEC 10646:2017 (6th ed.) CD" (PDF). Retrieved 29 August 2018.
  8. ^ Lunde, Ken (5 June 2018). "Unicode Version 11.0". CJK Type Blog. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
  9. ^ Beck, Stewart Lee. "The Hardest Chinese Character". Retrieved 2016-06-14.
  10. ^ "Biangbiang Shaanxi street food". China Daily. Retrieved 19 November 2012.

External links[edit]

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