Xian Famous Foods Expands to South Midtown With Largest Location Yet

For those of us stuck in the 30s at lunchtime, we’ve always wondered if the line from Xi’an Famous Foods would ever get long enough to stretch down to our neck of the woods.  Luckily we’ll never have to find out!  The spicy hand pulled noodle shop opened their second and MUCH needed Midtown location recently, and it’s a big one. Now let’s just make sure everything’s up to par with their 45th Street store!

The moment you open the door, the familiar scent of spices and lamb envelopes you. Expect the smell of your clothes to give away where you went for lunch. The photo menu greets you on the left. Seems to be a complete menu, nothing omitted. My coworkers and I got to the new location closer to 2pm, so we had no issues with lines, but you may want to check their website to get real-time store traffic info. I had a little more than a 5 minute wait to get my food, but was reasonably distracted by the open kitchen.

The assembly line of sauces and toppings divides you from the rest of the kitchen. And with each bowl they make, you think, That’s mine!, until they call out another number.

You’re better off passing the time by watching the noodle-makers. On my first visit, a guy was stretching the noodles quickly like a pro. But another time, a woman moved slowly and hesitantly, maybe getting trained in that kitchen. Perhaps that’s why the noodles weren’t ripped as nicely as I was used to? The noodles were still delicious, and it’s just minor grand opening kinks.

The food? Still as awesome as ever. Spices haven’t toned down a bit, and lamb face salad’s still on the menu. They’re serious about preserving the authenticity of the food’s Xian origins. I usually go for the Spicy Cumin Lamb Soup. I can’t think of anything better to bite back the arctic freeze. If you don’t like/can’t handle spicy food, why are you still reading this article? Then again, my coworker managed to find Stewed Pork Hand Ripped Noodles, one of the few non-spicy options.

And prices? Same as the first Midtown location. Best part? No item is over $10, so no need to peruse the menu to stay within budget! Just try not to overorder.

Happily, the only differentiator for this location is its sheer size, which I only realized AFTER finishing my meal. The downstairs has a bar and more seats hidden behind it. However, take the flight of stairs at the back and you’ll find a sparse room with skylights, seats all along the walls, and several group tables in the center. This place should be able to handle the lunch rush better than any of their other locations.

Signs are plastered all along the bar and tables to remind you to clean after yourself, and not to save seats if you haven’t gotten your food yet, all to save on labor costs. Gotta appreciate how unapologetic they are about their ways, like Old New York without the rudeness! I’m not only talking about their methods of keeping prices low, but also the hip hop overhead and the spartan decor. You’re not here for stereotypical Americanized Chinese food. You’re here because you want good food and its tough-to-beat price, and Xian Famous Food continues to deliver exactly that.

The + (Bring on the spice)
+ More seating
+ Line moves quickly
+ All items below $10

The – (I don’t like chains)
- What’s new about those Xian noodles? Been there, done that.
- Few non-spicy options
- Noodles not ripped as much as expected (new employees)

Xi’an Famous Foods, 14 E. 34th Street (btw. Mad+5th)

1 Comment

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    I was a regular at their 45th Street location and find the 34th Street to be the same except in three respects – larger space, shorter lines, and they take credit cards (woo hoo!), but those spicy lamb noodles are still magnificent.

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