Xi’an Famous Foods Shows Us How It’s Done
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.
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.
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.
And pretty soon, they ended up looking like this.
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.
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.
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…
…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.),