24 W. 45th Street
New York, NY 10036
Xi'an Famous Foods is a multiple-venue operation in Manhattan with a lot of press, and a wide following. I was in Midtown for some business, and I decided to give that location a shot, because Midtown is a food desert for cheap eats.
The space is small inside, just a counter and a wall menu in the front, but you can see the food being prepped, which is always nice.
I also like the simplicity of wall menus (with pictures of course).
It didn't take too long, and was relatively cheap. I was able to find a seat in the back dining area by playing hawk.
The spicy cucumbers were a bit of a let down. They were spicy and oily, but not much else. I think I am spoiled by most of the places in both Chinatown's.
There was literally no flavor. Where was the ginger, garlic, sugar? Where was the umami?
The stewed pork burger at about $3.50 was my favorite piece of the visit. A nicely grilled bun, and fatty, flavorful meat, this alone saved the 3 cheesesteak rating from spiraling down to a two (or one, dare I say it).
The meat was nicely spiced, with some kick, but had this rich fattiness that kept me coming back.
Look at the fat glisten, and the meaty shreds with pieces of skin.
The pork Zha Jiang hand ripped noodles was "a savory-sweet pork stew, tossed with biangbiang noodles and a generous portion of cucumbers, scallions, celery, and chives." This was a decent dish, but again, there was spice and not a whole lot else. I am used to multi-faceted noodle dishes, with contrasting flavors. The noodles had a nice spring to them, but I can think of many better variations.
The "Concubine chicken" was the biggest let-down. According to the menu "Our biangbiang noodles mixed with pieces of bone-in dark chicken meat, sauteed, stewed, and mixed with our secret house sauce." The bone in chicken was a pain to eat, and the tiny pieces of meat on the bone left something to be desired. Again, the sauce was one note.
Pieces of bone were so hard to find, they were small and jagged = choking hazard. No thank you.
I eventually combined the noodle dishes, and suddenly it had a lot more complexity.
Still not worth going out of your way for. Next time I would try some of the cumin lamb, and definitely get another Chinese burger.