The Great Xi’an Famous Foods – Now on The Upper East Side!

Xi’an Famous Foods first became, um, famous back in the mid aughts, with the original, tiny stall in Flushing’s Golden Shopping Mall standing out even among all the other wondrous street-food-ish stands for its ragged, hand-ripped noodles and, in addition to other meaty delights, its intense cumin-seasoned lamb. Then came another, even smaller, storefront in Manhattan’s Chinatown, where I first encountered Xi’an (and, much to my shame, I wasn’t an immediate convert, though I think that had something yo do with bringing the food home, rather than eating it right away), and then… well, let’s just say that is has been a busy few years for this crew, with shops opening up on the Upper East and Upper West Sides, Midtown East and West, as well as two in Brooklyn, in East Williamsburg and Greenpoint. Question is, has this rapid expansion effected the quality of the food, or is Xi’an Famous still one of the best cheap eats spots in all of NYC?

Upper East Side Welcomes Xi’an Famous Foods

I stopped in at the Upper East Side Xi’an the other night, my first time at this newish outpost on 78th Street, mid-block between First and Second Avenues, to see how their rightly Famous Foods had weathered the trip uptown. First, I was happy to see that, even given a much larger space than, say, their East Village spot–though it’s still not “large” by any stretch of the imagination–that Xi’an retains its no-frills, slightly hip charm. There’s the photo menu on the wall (order by letter-number combo, like “N2”, not “Spicy and Tingly Beef Hand Ripped Noodles”), backless stools in front of narrow counters, bright lights and red tiles, and, taking advantage of the room, a communal table. Even the music here is the same old-school hip-hop mix, chosen by Xi’an founder Jason Wang himself, though they do feel the need to explain their taste in tunes in a little plaque, rather than just assume Upper East Siders will totally get it, because it’s good.

What To Eat At Xi’an Famous Foods

So, the fun and functional quick-bite vibe remains in place–as do the pleasantly low prices–and, I’m happy to report, so does the deliciousness of the food. I had my go-to dish, N1 (Spicy Cumin Lamb Hand-Ripped Noodles), and it was excellent as always, the wide noodles chewy and satisfying, the meat intensely spiced and tender, just a fantastic winter-night’s supper. Note: Xi’an doesn’t do delivery because these noodles are meant to be eaten immediately, before they get all mushy, so if you’re doing take-out, for heaven’s sakes hurry. Anyway, I’m betting that my other favorites–the cold Lamb Face Salad (L3), the superb Lamb Burger (B2), the Stewed Oxtail Noodle Soup (Ns10)–are just as good here as elsewhere in the Xi’an Famous universe. I also tried something new at the UES Xi’an, and it was terrific, a plate of about eight fat Spicy and Sour Spinach Dumplings, which are definitely both those things and are actually packed-full with spinach, so you can count it as your vegetable. Bottom line: Xi’an Famous Foods clearly should expand to EVERY neighborhood.                  

For Menu and More Information on Xi’an Famous Foods

Xi’an Famous Foods has multiple locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. For complete details as well the Xi’an Famous menu, see their first-rate website, here.

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