Garlic gone HAM, so don’t bring a date (unless you’ve been married for 5 years and dragon breath has become a viable practice).
Take this. Lurking deep within the maze of Chinatown is Xi’an Famous Foods, an authentic no-frills Chinese joint flowing with hand-pulled noodles of sorts, two communal tables, 8 bar stools, and framed press décor including images like New York Magazine spreads, plus a picture of Anthony Bourdain manhandling a lamb sandwich.
I’m no authentic eats aficionada. On the contrary, I often play it safe with the tofu route (exhibit A: soup above). But when my dad is in town, I venture out of my veggie burger shell for a second and explore a world burning with garlic, chili oil, sesame seeds, and soy sauce. And on that note, don’t forget the cucumber salad–your daily dose of greens swimming in a sweet and tangy soy situation.
Xi’an is a New York chain (9 locations, including Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn). It’s also a “no service” restaurant where you order your meal based on images hanging on the wall, pay, take a number, and listen for your calling while you hope to snag a seat.
The spinach dumplings were epic—spice galore, and chockfull of some chimichurri-esque garlic loaded filling. The tofu soup was extremely tasty and silky, also overloaded with garlic, chili oil, and the works. Your mouth will be on fire, you will sip water, and you will attempt to suck it up while snagging a cumin lamb noodle. Sorry, the noodles aren’t exactly…photogenic.
You will notice that this shit is slurped in a really hardcore (sexy) manner, with sauce flying into eyeballs of nearby diners, and oil dripping down your chin. This is customary, and it’s the norm—embrace it. (Like the boys below.) Ernie went the oxtail route, pops with cumin lamb.
Eat early so you’re not tossing in turning in bed with noodles and tofu coming out of your pores and all. Or don’t, whatever floats your swarming plate of hand-pulled noodles.