Food

Public Service Reminder: Xi’an Famous Foods Is Great — and Cheap

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Consider this information as either a reminder or a need-to-know: Xi’an Famous Foods (multiple locations) has some of the best — and cheapest — Chinese food in NYC.

First featured on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations back in 2008, the fast-casual noodle shop has been a regular in the media ever since. 

Xi’an Famous is known for its fragrant food and noodle dishes, which hail from a Chinese region located at the start of the Silk Road — the area has a large Muslim population, with many halal vendors. Unlike the greasy, soy-sauce-covered fare found in Chinese-American takeout joints across the U.S. made to cater to American palates, the food is bold, spicy and sour with the taste of black vinegar and other interesting flavors sprinkled throughout.

The bestselling dish at all Famous Foods locations is the hand-pulled noodles ($8 to $8.75) with lamb — thick strips of rich, chewy dough tossed with bite-size chunks of meat and cumin-scented chile oil. It’s super spicy and strangely fragrant, totally different from most Chinese noodle dishes found in New York. All the components are perfect: the rustic, al dente noodles, the intriguing aroma, the hearty portion. You may be able to get two meals out of it. 

Lamb is by far the most popular protein on the menu — the spicy lamb burger is also a hit  ($3.50–$4) — but you can’t go wrong with any pick. The seared, spicy vegetarian hand-ripped noodles ($7 to $7.50) are just as satisfying as the meaty options (the excellent noodles and spices are the key). 

So consider this a public service announcement — go to Xi’an immediately. If you haven’t been, you must go now. If you have, you’d be wise to visit again soon. Everything is worth trying out and it’s a place you can afford to visit frequently.

The most expensive item on the menu, the stewed oxtail hand-ripped noodles, will run you $10.25. Hey, it’s significantly cheaper than a trip to Whole Foods.