This review is a late arrival to the Xi'an Famous Foods party. By now we're at least four years behind the initial wave of hype around this chain of restaurants, though we're certainly not new to the game here. We've been getting our grub on at the East Village location since the early days of this website, and we've even made it out to the Flushing spot on more than one occasion. So what prompted us to finally give Xi'an an official write up? They opened up shop in Midtown. And that is either the best thing ever or the worst thing ever. We're still trying to decide.
On one hand, Xi'an's presence in Midtown is great because this area desperately needs more cheap and delicious things to eat for lunch. If you spend your weekdays here, you're already aware of this. And if you don't, screw you and your perfect life. As a matter of fact, I hope that free artisan salad you eat in a beautiful loft every day puts your start up out of business. I mean it. You don't know this kind of suffering. Anyway, we've been to the new Xi'an a few times for lunch since they opened in April, and can say that we're very that happy it's arrived, even though the lines can be long.
Now for the bad news. This food is pretty much the last thing you should have for lunch before heading back to the office. Especially if you have that thing where you don't poop at work. Eating a plate of spicy cumin lamb noodles before you spend the rest of your day with a bunch of people who've never met the real you is a really bad idea. And if you happen to be reading this thinking, "that doesn't sound like a problem," then you should probably know that they all talk about you. Even the interns. Let's just say that lunch at Xi'an is probably best saved for an afternoon when you can spend a few hours "on a call" in Bryant Park, letting the spicy settle. The office will be glad you did.
An excellent cold noodle dish served with seitan (wheat gluten). This is actually a pretty tame option in terms of spices, and it's really good. Vegan too.
One of the "famous" things from Xi'an Famous Foods. This little "burger" is more like a Chinese English muffin stuffed with fragrant lamb, but it's good no matter what you call it. And at $3 each, you'll probably want more than one.
Another notorious dish. This is the same meat as what you'll find in the burger, but instead mixed in with some jagged looking noodles that are a little al dente and amazing. It's greasy, but it's good.
A beefy, brothy soup, this one is an excellent move on a cold day. Anything oxtail here is actually a pretty solid move.
This dish will pretty much blast your face off. These noodles are slicked in spicy chili oil, to the point that your lips will be numb in a few seconds. We love it, but don't say we didn't warn you.
That's right. A lamb face salad. That's served cold. This thing is delicious if you have the balls to order it. As a matter of fact, bring this one back to work and eat it in a meeting maybe. We're betting you get promoted.