Xi'an Famous Foods - NYC
Xi’an is a restaurant that no longer needs an introduction. Started in 2005, the chain now boasts more than 15 locations in New York. Serving up Western Chinese dishes, they are primarily known for their fantastic hand pulled, or biangbiang noodles. Originating in China's Shaanxi Province, the noodles are made with wheat flour, and are repeatedly pulled and ripped by hand. I’ll be short and sweet here, just like the experience of eating at a Xi’an Famous Foods.
Although I don’t recall which location we were at, the whole restaurant was almost empty. The restroom and room for a line on the left wall, the counter in front, and the remaining walls had a protruding countertop with stools. It was bright, clean, and laidback. Service was quick, and our food piping hot. My partner Sara and I ordered the pork dumplings in chili oil, the regular hand pulled noodles, and the hand pulled noodles with ox tail. I experienced Xi’an once before, but that was done using a Goldbelly order, so I personally pulled and ripped my own noodles. Even when they’re made like garbage, they’re delicious. Having them pulled by the pros makes a world of a difference.
It’s hard to describe the exact texture of fresh pasta. The distinctive chew, the perplexing “bounciness” the noodles seem to have, it elevates a pasta dish with new elements of texture and mouthfeel. Accompanying the simple and delightful noodles, the restaurant’s proprietary sauce, along with a healthy serving of garlic, scallions, and Chinese red chili powder. It’s got every major flavor category covered, and the finished product is truly wonderful. Their other dishes, such as the dumplings, seem to be tossed in a similar proprietary sauce. Everything on the menu is positively bursting with flavor, and overall, you should eat here. It’s a bit of an iconic spot/dish, and when done right, it’s fantastic. Not much else to say. This is a situation where you either have common sense, or you don’t.
Clockwise: Spicy and sour pork dumplings, hand pulled noodles with ox tail, and hand pulled noodles with garlic and scallions.
Closeup of the ox tail. I think I'm spoiled. My only other experience with ox tail was in Jamaica, and nostalgia may be my enemy on this one, but I remember being genuinely shocked at how delicious it was. Although this was good, it was a little bit tough and fatty.
If you live in New York City, I hope to God you already know this place. And if you live elsewhere, put it on your itinerary for your next visit. It may not be the best meal of your trip, but for the price point, it's spectacular. They're no frills, simple, yet elevated food. These are incredible Goddamn noodles. Now go get some.