With the cold weather months fast approaching, warm comfort foods become more and more in demand. Brothy soups, decadent noodles and spiced flavors are increasingly yearned for as the mercury drops. With the many food ethnicities available in our city, the options for food comfort are vast. For years I’ve been itching to try the mother of Chinese comfort foods, spicy cumin lamb hand-ripped noodles in soup. While there may be a few places to procure this dish in New York, none other is more renowned than the rich version by Xi’an Famous Foods.
Xi’an Famous Foods has a few locations throughout the city’s boroughs. Until recently, all were hidden deep in the narrow depths of our Chinatown’s with two and Manhattan and the original in Flushing, Queens. This past week, I was lucky to be on a tasting tour of the latter and stumbled upon the holy soup grail.
While many regarded establishments can often be over-hyped, Xi’an Famous Foods and the spicy cumin lamb hand-ripped noodles in soup lives up to its’ reputation. While most of the Chinese food in America is from the Szechuan, Hunan or Cantonese provinces, the dishes at Xi’an Famous Foods hail from China’s West and the namesake ancient capital of Xi’an. Situated directly on the infamous Silk Road, the flavors and style of cooking in the area blend that of typically Chinese with Middle Eastern influences. The result? An original fusion cuisine unlike many others embodying the delicate balance between the spicy and rich, with an ancestral heritage that is both comforting and exciting.
Of the many components of the soup at Xi’an Famous foods, it is hard to say which is the standout star. The noodles, meat and broth all give each other a run for the money. The hand-ripped noodles are doughy and delicate at the same time, with the glutinous bite expected from any fresh batch. The cumin spice flavor is prominent through not overwhelming and is delightfully not reminiscent of the Americanized Chinese food we’ve grown accustomed to over the years. The lamb too, a protein not typically found in Westernized Chinese establishments is tender and flavorful. Infused with flavor from the meat, spice and various herbs, the broth from this noodle soup is luscious and bold with just the right amount of heat to announce it’s presence on your palate.
It may have taken me a few years to finally get to Xi’an Famous Foods and their spicy cumin lamb hand-ripped noodles in soup, but it certainly won’t take me too long to return. The restaurant (more like a stall) and the dish have reached a cult like acclaim, and I for one, am happy to have drinken the Koolaid.
41-28 Main Street Bsmt #36, Flushing, Queens, 10:30 AM- 9:30 PM
88 East Broadway #106, Manhattan, 11 AM- 8 PM
67 Bayard Street, Manhattan, Mon-Thurs & Sun 12- 9 PM, Fri & Sat 12- 9:30 PM
81 St. Mark’s Place, Manhattan, Mon-Thurs & Sun 12- 9:30 PM, Fri & Sat 12-10:30 PM