It’s no secret that Xi’an Famous Foods’ wide, chewy noodles are completely delicious, but when I was thinking about this week’s Ask the Critic question–about where to get the city’s spiciest food–I wondered what would happen if I asked for one of Xi’an’s chile-oil-napped dishes extra spicy instead of just spicy, as I normally do.
The spicy, tingly beef noodles ome with wonderfully tender braised beef in chunks and shreds, plus those noodles, Sichuan peppercorns, chives, and sprouts. Ask for it extra spicy, and the dish–though still not overwhelming–takes on a deeper shade of red, with more chile oil than usual and bits of cooked red chiles throughout.
The heat is a glow rather than a burn–a warmth that suffuses your mouth and lips and heats up as you eat, augmented by the tingly numbing quality of the peppercorns. Truly, it is a wonderful dish, somehow both energizing and comforting, the thick, wheaten noodles soaking in the pungent sauce, the beef like the very best pot roast.
Xi’an Famous Foods, various locations