Xiao Ye NYC: Taiwanese Street Food on the Lower East Side
We couldn't help but think of David Chang and his now-mighty Momofuku empire when we grabbed a few quick bites at Xiao Ye in NYC the other night. Located on Orchard Street just below Houston, Xiao Ye is the new Taiwanese street food joint from the young, opinionated, and undeniably talented Eddie Huang, whose tiny (and tasty) Baohaus a few blocks away on Rivington has been packing in the revelers-with-munchies crowd for about six months now.
With Xiao Ye NYC, Huang follows much the same formula as his first foray into the Lower East Side party-dining scene: the dishes here have puny, rude-ish names; the ingredients are fresh and thoughtfully-curated; the scene is cool-friends-dropping-by casual; the music is loud and hip-hoppy. But where Baohaus is focused on, essentially, one thing–the Gua Bao, or steamed bun sandwich–Xiao Ye is a decidedly more ambitious undertaking. Call it Huang's Ssam to his Baohaus's Noodle Bar. Or something like that.
Anyway, the food at Xiao Ye NYC is all very snackable and shareable, and we did both with three of Huang's new dishes. The Poontang Potstickers started things off on a good note, the dumplings sticky and nicely charred, and the meaty sweetness of the filling, a blend of LaFrieda all-natural Duroc pork and nappa cabbage, worked well with the bite of the Taiwanese black vinegar dipping sauce. Huang's not rewriting the potsticker rulebook here, but this is a solid, prepared-with-care entry into the city's crowded dumpling field.
The next dish, Mom's Cold Noodles, was something of a disaster, with too many harsh flavors, both in the chili oil broth and that big mushy green ball on top, canceling each other out around a pile of gummy starch. Much better, though somewhat creepily named, was the Trade My Daughter Fried Chicken, the all-natural chicken breast surprisingly juicy beneath a double layer of crispy batter, covered with crushed peanuts, red pepper flakes, and cilantro. Maybe it could have used some sort of sweet sauce–the coating, though flavorful, was almost dusty in its dryness–but still, we finished this Xiao Ye dish in about four seconds. Next time, we're definitely getting the Everything But the Dog Meat Bowl, four cuts of meat served, in Huang's trademark semi-bratty fashion, in a genuine dog bowl!
Xiao Ye NYC Details
Xiao Ye is located on Orchard Street between Houston and Stanton Streets, and is open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays from 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., and on Thursday through Saturday until 2:00 a.m. Closed Mondays. For more information and a look at the complete menu, please see the Xiao Ye NYC website.