Xi’an Famous Foods Shows Us How It’s Done

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I don’t get out to Flushing nearly as much as I want to these days. Or pretty much ever. It’s just so far. The only time I really get out there is if a friend has an extra Mets ticket and is looking for someone to go with ‘em, which, quite frankly, also doesn’t happen often enough. But getting on topic, with all that great Chinese food I hear about out there, when one of those Flushing legends finally landed in Manhattan, I had to go. There was no if’s, and’s, or but’s. I had to go.

Xi’an Famous Foods, located on Forsyth (careful, the address is tricky), is that place. I had heard so much hype about it, particularly the noodles, I had to get up there and see what it was all about. And as you can probably predict, I wasn’t disappointed in the least.
The spot where you can pick up all sorts of delicious central and western chinese goodies is part of the large mall located at 88 East Broadway, but if you’re going off of the street number alone you’ll be confused. Even with the booth number you’ll still spend a good couple of minutes looking for this place. Take my advice and follow these directions: Make your way to the southeast corner of Forsyth and East Broadway, turn west away from Williamsburg and the East River, and walk. It’s about 4 doors down on your left, maybe less.

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Anyway, like I was saying, the noodles here are famous. How famous? Well, New York magazine just awarded them the best noodles in New York for 2010.  We’ll get to my opinion in a second here, but for now, I’d like to shed some mystery on what makes these noodles so damn good. Turns out there’s a lot of stretching, slapping, flapping, and tearing, kinda like my last trip to the gym.  In an homage to Kevin’s stretching cheese photo montage, I give you the making of my noodles.

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Scroll through them fast enough and it’s like you’re actually there. After she ripped them up, she’d toss them in a big pot of boiling water.  After a few minutes, they came out looking a bit like this.

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And pretty soon, they ended up looking like this.

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Those are my Mt. Qi Pork Hand-Pulled Noodles and they set me back a mere $5.00. The flavor was great, a slightly spicy sauce covering everything. But this would be a downright travesty if I didn’t tell you that the noodles are the star of the show here. You can’t help but focus on the texture of them. Because of the hand-pulled nature of these noodles, they’re beautifully flawed in the consistency of their size and shape. You’ll get some thin, some thick, some wide… you get the point. But they’re all gloriously chewy, rich, and really, really good, not to mention surprisingly filling.

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And because I had some extra money in my pocket, I decided to pick up a Savory Cumin Lamb Burger for $2.50 while I was at it. It’s about the size of a small burger, but that’s pretty much where the similarities end. “Burger” in this case is another word for sandwich, so don’t get the wrong impression. Inside a lightly pan-toasted flat roll lay chunks of lamb coated in a smoky cumin-based spice rub. To be honest, the flavor of the meat was kind of lost amongst all the spicing, but it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the sandwich in the least. The bread had a nice crispness to the outside that makes my heart beat a little faster when I bite into it. It’s made me very curious about their stewed pork burger.

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You really can’t go wrong when you order these noodles, and the burgers are a perfect accompaniment. But if you’re dying for something a little strange, a little off the beaten path, they’ve got that too, from stewed lamb spine and ribs to…

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…Spicy & Tingly Lamb Face Salad. Yes, that is the actual name on the menu. Even though at $8.75 it’s the most expensive thing on the menu, I saw it and couldn’t help myself. And this dish does indeed live up to its name. Despite the oddly creamy texture of the sauce/dressing, there were definitely both spicy and tingly qualities to it. The pieces of lamb face in the salad were very tender and only on a very rare occasion did they have any cartilaginous crunch. If there were such a thing as a good introductory dish to eating strange animal parts, this isn’t such a bad one as long as you can handle the heat.

My trip to Xi’an Famous Foods was well worth the walk up from the Financial District, so if you’re in the area for jury duty, definitely do yourself a favor and make your way up here. It’s a really unique kind of place that you’re not going to find anywhere else in Chinatown. This takes a few more leads from the western parts of China rather than the east that we’re used to. Between the unique nature of this joint, the prices, and the flat out deliciousness of the noodles, there’s really no excuse for you not to check it out. In fact, I’m surprised you’re not already there.

THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)

  • Unbelievable hand-pulled noodles made right before your very eyes
  • A unique cuisine you’re not gonna find anywhere else, even in Chinatown
  • The one out in Flushing was on Anthony Bourdain’s show, how could this not be good!?
  • Delicious AND cheap, a combo so rarely found these days

THE — (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • This is not what I think of when I want Chinese food
  • They’re too far away and they don’t deliver
  • It’s tiny and there’s nowhere to sit

Xi’an Famous Foods, 88 East Broadway booth #106 (at Forsyth St.),



  • Cool. Pork Hand-Pulled noodles with slight spicy sauce. That looks great!!

  • Damn… that looks so good. I really need to find the L.A. equivalent of this spot

  • Well I know that I plan on getting the lamb burger and pork noodles but I’m not too sure about the salad. Although I must admit it… just saying the full name of the salad makes me feel a lil funky.

    Spicy…. and tingly… lamb face salad…

    Doesn’t that just give you chills?

  • just returned to the Flushing location on Friday and brought some liang pi all the way back to Philly, I miss the stuff so much. There is nothing like it. Though they are starting to add a hint of cumin in all their dishes and I hate cumin…

  • I visited them in their Flushing location twice. I love the texture and flavor of the Liang Pi Cold Skin Noodles. I have yet to try their hand pulled noodles, I must go.

  • Lamb face salad may be the best thing on their menu, but I’ve only had it at the Golden Mall branch. The broth at the Manhattan branch has been weak, but the plain noodle dishes are still spectacular.

  • I’m so confused. I went here today and I hated it. And I ain’t picky–I’ve turned down food maybe twice in my life. I waited almost half an hour for my food (I actually think it would have been longer, but this guy who spoke Chinese and knew the ladies behind the counter went to bat for me). No biggie…it’s Sunday and the people in front of me were placing multiple orders. Anywho, I ordered three things (I’m fat on the inside): Spicy & Tingly Beef Hand-Pulled Noodles, Savory Cumin Lamb Hand-Pulled Noodles In Soup, and Savory Cumin Lamb Burger. They all had the same peppery, almost bitter notes (which I guess makes sense b/c they put all the same seasonings/sauces/toppings into everything?). I think they put lamb face into my beef noodles, ’cause it was unlike any beef I’ve ever consumed. The lamb soup was just okay, but after every spoonful of broth my lips were coated in oil. I liked the freshly-baked burger bun, but the lamb itself was gristly and again, it tasted bitter. I threw away half the burger and all the beef noodles (which damn near broke my fat-girl heart). I’m hoping to revisit the lamb soup later with better results. Ugh, I’m so disappointed…am I missing something?

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      In response to Wingwoman:

      We apologize for the bitter issue. It seems one batch of our pepper oil was a bit burnt around the time you were there. That’s the reason for the bitterness. We are aware of the issue and it has been taken care of. Hope your experience next time is more enjoyable!

  • @xian

    I love you guys and have been eating your liang pi noodles in Golden Mall for several years. It is one of my favorite dishes of all time!! But lately I have noticed some changes in the ingredients. I am not a big cumin fan, so I avoid the lamb burger. Lately I have been tasting notes of cumin in the liang pi. Oh no! That makes me sad. Also there seems to be less cilantro and less spice. Why the change? It was so perfect as it was. I also wasn’t expecting cumin in the soft tofu.

    love, Jamie

  • The Xi’an lamb burger is (almost) better than sex.

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    I was in the city this past weekend from Virginia and went to Xi’an twice. I LOVED it!! I have been researching recipes to try and come close to D7, sliced lamb soup with hand-pulled noodles, at home until I can get back to NYC again!!

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    Their attitudes are getting worse and worse. They don’t care about customers anymore. Their new job Jason said in person that he doesn’t care about losing one client like me. Honestly, I have been client of this store for a long time since his father start this store in Flushing. His father is humorous and gentle. But he is totally opposite. He will Ruin his father’s business one day or even sooner. Today, I only ask him to not add spice but sugar in the Tofu, which is very reasonable and simple. He refused. I said I have already ordered spicy dish here and don’t want to have another spicy one. He again refused. I as a customer, have been rejected by him twice. He even told me to buy it somewhere else and I don’t necessarily need to eat in their store. What a rude attitude. I am not a person who like arguments. I only feel as a customer for this store for a long time, my feelings have been hurt. I said I need to talk to his father. He said he will dial the number right away and he won’t answer any way. He also said I can sent email but it is him who responsible for the emails. What he want to say is ask me to get off, and he didn’t care about me as a client.Jason, you know, you will ruin your father’s business. Although you can speak English fluently, you are nothing and nothing compared to your father. Remember, it is your father who start this business very hard, and build a good relationship to other clients. You are rude to me today, and I believe you will be mad to other clients another day. You will see how you ruin the business day by day. I have to say, you are the worst boss I have ever seen.
    I will never again go to your store and I will talk to my other friends and relatives and everyone I know how you are rude to clients only because your business is Ok now.

    Jason, if you do care about your business. I need your apology publicly on your website. I know as one single customer. You even don’t care about my complaints. But I do believe if you continue to be like this, more and more people will hate the way you run business, and won’t go to you store. You know, if you were not being rude to me this morning, I could bring other clients come. I was so disappointed how your father can let you be the boss. All those years sweats and tears. If your father see what you have done today, he will get disappointed too. You said I am ignorant and stupid. How could you look down upon others like this. Yes, I admit my English is not as fluent as you, but I do understand the meaning of words that you were cursing me. I will continue talk to all my friends not go to your store if you don’t apologize to me. At first, I decided do nothing and let this go. Then I think instead of doing nothing and getting angry I will do something to criticize you. You are wrong? Jason? and you are a horrible boss.

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    I am angry is because the New Boss Jason’s bad attitude. If you are boss, you wouldn’t curse your customer ignorant or stupid, but he did. That is so rude. I do think he need apologize to me and to all the old customers who helped his father to build up the business. It is not right. Also, I didn’t ask him to do any modifications but I don’t want to eat another spicy food since I have already ordered one. I asked him not to add spicy but sugar. But he cursed me ignorant and stupid in English, and unfortunately, I can understand those rude words. He looked down upon us old customers. That’s so rude of him. I will still talk to other customers either Chinese or native not to go there eat if they do not apologize to the public. They are wrong.

  • I went there last autumn to their 81 St Marks Pl location & agree 100% with this review adding that service is better at this location than the Chinatown one.

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