Oh, hello! What is that piece of flesh looking up at me?
Xi’an Famous Foods’ Spicy and Tingly Lamb Face Salad might be the most perfect summer meal: shredded scallions, green chiles, sprouts, and a catalog of various meats from the facial area, immersed in a gritty red sauce with lots of assertive character. The dish derives its awesome heat from chile oil, fresh chiles, and what might be a dusting of Sichuan peppercorns, hence the “tingly” part.
Xi’an Famous Foods, of course, is the stall downstairs in Flushing’s Golden Mall that dispenses the fare of Xi’an, an ancient city in Shaanxi province 750 kilometers southwest of Beijing. The city lay at the end of the Silk Road, and thus much of the food is lamb-intensive, laced with Asian cumin, served with noodles or a modified pita bread (including the stall’s famous “lamb burger,” which is really a kefta kebab on a pita).
The city of Xi’an — which boasts a Muslim quarter with a Great Mosque — is also famous as the place the Terracotta Warriors were unearthed starting in 1974, eventually coming to include 6,000 life-size warriors planted in the ground in an eastern-facing rectangular array. Spooky!
I’ve been eating at the Manhattan branch of Xi’an Famous Foods, a stall with no seating in the shadow of the Manhattan Bridge, on a weekly basis since it opened a few months ago. The lamb face salad never called to me before, but now that the summer is almost upon us, I’m switching to salads from the hot noodle-and-lamb dishes. Nothing like a cooling spicy salad in summer to release the perspiration and cool the corpse. And trying to identify the face parts as you eat them (they’ve been artfully cut up), is a bonus that turns lunch into a game. 88 East Broadway, 718-885-7788
Next: Our best guess what the thing is.
It looks to me like tongue, with the pebbly surface on the top. On the other hand, the inside looks like the vitreous humor of an eyeball. Any thoughts?
Qu’est-ce que c’est?