eat. shop. love. nyc.

Xi’an Famous Foods in Manhattan
May 25, 2010, 10:49 am
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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. Continue reading


Soft shell crab season is here
May 4, 2010, 12:50 pm
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Just had my first soft shell crab of the season at Great NY Noodletown for lunch. $8 each.

The photos really don’t do it justice. Trust me, this is some effing good ish. Dip in vinegar and chili sauce mixture. Eat. Enjoy. Repeat.

Also very good: egg plant over rice $4.95 and sauteed pea shoots $9.95 (shown below), and pretty much all of the noodles. In fact, it is from Great NY Noodletown’s Lo Mein with Ginger and Scallion that David Chang got the idea for his own ginger scallion noodles. Note: Tsingtao beers are $3 each.

Go: Great NY Noodletown (Chinatown/LES) 28 Bowery, New York, NY 10013. Open to 4 am nightly.

Ho fun? How fun! Wide flat rice noodle stir fry

I was doing a little grocery shopping in Chinatown the other day and came across a shop on the northeast corner of Grand and Chrystie. Little old Chinese ladies were hawking freshly made noodles called ho fun, shahe fen or sen yai, wide flat rice noodles, almost gummy or sticky in texture, often found in dishes such as chow fun or pad see ew. For $1.50, I picked up 2 huge bags of ho fun. I only wanted 1 bag, as that was already 2 pounds, but the fresh noodles don’t keep long, maybe 3-4 days max, so the ladies try to turn inventory quickly. For $1.50, I figured if I could eat a few different incarnations of chow fun throughout the week.

There are a few basic ingredients for any Asian noodle stir-fry sauce: oyster sauce for sweetness, soy sauce for saltiness, rice vinegar for acidity, sesame seed oil for depth, and some kind of hot sauce or pepper for heat (I am a huge fan of sriracha).

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Downtown Asian eats
July 24, 2009, 3:31 pm
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It’s been a while since my family got together: mom, dad, brother, me. They’re in town this weekend, and it’s going to be full of good, homey-feeling Asian food at equally good prices. Here’s the plan, ranging from Chinese (soft shell crab, hotpot, soup dumplings) to Vietnamese (banh mi, bun) to Japanese (izakaya) to Korean (and why I hate eating Korean food that is not cooked by my mother):

Great NY Noodle Town (28 Bowery at Bayard, Chinatown) – Soft shell crabs (my dad’s fave) are in season! *Thanking lucky stars* At $16 for two large, meaty, salt-baked soft shell crabs, you really can’t go wrong. The Cantonese noodles with beef are also good ($6.95), and I’m a huge fan of the Sauteed Pea Shoots ($9.95). It’s open late-night in case you’re ever craving shrimp wontons in noodle soup after a night out downtown ($5.95).

Grand Sichuan (125 Canal Street between Chrystie St & Forsyth St – Chinatown/LES) – Local hotpot joint for groups of 4 or more. We’ll be getting the half spicy, half mild broth with beef, Chinese cabbage, Udon noodles, enoki mushrooms, and fried tofu. Continue reading