eat. shop. love. nyc.

Xi’an Famous Foods in Manhattan
May 25, 2010, 10:49 am
Filed under: Eat | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Behold: the perfect noodle.

The $5 “spicy and tingly lamb noodles” (D1) from Xi’an Famous Foods are definitely spicy, and I suppose the tingle comes from the burning sensation in your mouth that intensifies with each glorious mouthful. I had to pat dry the tiny beads of sweat that appeared on my nose after the first few bites, but I didn’t care because it was so messing good. The ancient city for which this restaurant is named (Xi’an) is home to the famous terracotta soldiers and fuses Middle Eastern and Chinese flavor profiles together seamlessly. The smokiness of the cumin, the  mellowness of the lamb, the crunchiness of the bean sprouts and scallions, and the crazy heat from the chilies all added to the dish’s hearty, toothsome goodness. The thick, chewy noodles have a delightful texture, and they are pulled and cooked to order by this woman and her magic hands:

She takes the fat pieces of dough and splays them across the counter so that they stretch and flattens them with a few quick pounds, and then she takes the long, flat noodles one by one and *poof* magically whirls them around with a few quick flicks of the wrist and voila! They become thinner in width (though still thick in girth) and they are tossed into the pot to cook.

And I didn’t have to take the train for an hour out to Flushing! As it turns out, all of the publicity surrounding Xi’an Famous Foods in the Flushing Mall has meant booming business for the hand-pulled noodle shop (there are a ton of New Yorkers who will eat pretty much anywhere that Anthony Bourdain has eaten on No Reservations), and it has expanded to Manhattan. This is fantastic news for me because I am a crotchety old lady and I like to stay close to home for all but the special-est of occasions, so it’s nice to be able to stroll over to the Manhattan Bridge in Chinatown, and soon, to East Village.

My downtown dining partner-in-crime Sara had the $5 “spicy and tingly beef noodle soup” (D2-S), which was only a little spicy and a little tingly, but also very good – I mean, you can’t really go wrong with these noodles.

I preferred the drier lamb noodle dish (D1 – called “savory cumin lamb noodles” on the website, though I am pretty sure they were called “spicy and tingly lamb noodles” on the menu at the shop) because I felt it showcased the noodles better, as the broth from the noodle soup, while good, was just not the star of the dish. I couldn’t get over those noodles!

For $5, you can’t do better, and I even had enough left over for a snack later. I’m excited to check out all of the other menu items, though next time, I’ll go with a giant bottle of ice-cold water and a hanky. If you are into funkier bits of meat – especially of lamb, you’re going to love some of the offal offerings: lamb offal soup, lamb face salad, lamb spine, spicy pig pudding…

Be forewarned – this is a teeny tiny shop. There are no seats whatsoever, and there’s enough room for two, maybe three people to stand at the counter and eat, so it’s recommended that you get takeout and perch yourself on some stairs nearby to chow down.

Eat: Xi’An Famous Foods (Chinatown) 88 East Broadway at Forsyth, entrance at Forsyth next to the AT&T store. Open daily 11 am to 8 pm. Don’t be discouraged by the line. It’s worth the 10-20 minute wait.


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I’m a wide noodle lover, that should say everything!!

Comment by Luis

I’ve eaten in this restaurant, the food is always wonderful, particularly the noodles, they are perfect!

Comment by Juliana

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