One surprise that hit us when we moved to the Bay Area was how Americanised a lot of the Asian food was. After moving to NYC we found a heavenly array of very authentic and reasonably priced Asian foods. Xi'an Famous Foods offers one of the things I missed most about home - reasonably priced hand pulled noodles.
Xi'an Famous Foods has several restaurants in Manhattan and Brooklyn but I tend to favour their restaurant in the East Village since it's close to a number of businesses I frequent and around the corner from a delightful Italian cake shop (more on that later).
The food is decidedly cheap and cheerful but delicious spicy Western Chinese food. The noodles are all made on site and if you're lucky you can catch glimpses of the cooks making them.
Being Manhattan the restaurant is reasonably small and New Yorkers have no patience for those who lose them a New York Minute. Be prepared to order if you step in line, don't take a seat until you get your food, clean up your own station and be prepared to get up as soon as you've finished. Those who do not follow the unwritten rules will get passive aggressive interruptions by people waiting to eat.
Spicy and Tingly Beef Hand Ripped Noodles $7.50USD
Chewy delicious hand ripped noodles are stir fried in a numbing chili spicy oil that is not for the feint hearted. Try the mild first before attempting hotter! The noodles are served with vegetables and fatty meat.
Spicy Cumin Lamb Hand Ripped Noodles $8.25USD
Spicy Cumin Lamb Burger $4
Both the lamb noodles and the lamb burger contain a cumin drenched dry lamb with vegetables. The burger is on a mantou style bun grilled on a flat top until crispy. The noodles are stir fried with more of the cumin, vegetables and chili oil.
Mount Qi Pork Hand Pulled Noodles $7.00USD
Pork Zha Jiang Hand Ripped Noodles $7.00USD
Spicy and Sour Lamb Dumpings $7.00USD
The Mount Qi pork is cubes of pork belly grilled with noodles and a slightly less spicy sauce. The Zha Jiang noodles feature ground pork fried in an umame soy bean sauce, deeelicious! The spicy and sour lamb dumplings are stuffed with a ground lamb filling and served with vinegar and soy.
Close up of Pork Zha Jiang Hand Ripped Noodles $7.00USD
This is easily my favourite dish on their menu and reminds me of a dry tantanmen without the sesame.
Go in expecting exactly what it is - a cheap limited menu of food made extraordinarily well. Not pictured are the noodle soup versions of each dish. Everything they make is excellent. Make sure to eat in, the delicate nature of the noodles does not survive delivery or a walk home. Cold drinks are available like Chinese teas and Coke products.
I really rather wished they offered condiments,, I keep wanting black vinegar to cut through the oil. Also the chopsticks they use leave a lot to be desired and if you're willing to endure the odd looks of your fellow diners I would recommend bringing some of your own from another restaurant or home. Still this is one of my favourite cheap food desinations in NYC, try it out.
Xi’an Famous Foods
81 St Marks Pl
New York, NY 10003
Ph: (212) 786-2068
Cheap and cheerful artisan noodles, good for the spicy food lover