Food is a highly subjective love, of course, but my vote for the best bowl of Asian noodles in New York City goes to Xi'an Famous Foods. Most of their locations are small—you will likely wait, and in the summer it won't feel worth it. However, once you dig in to your bowl of spicy broth, stewed pork (or lamb, or oxtail) that falls apart on your fork because it's so tender and hand-ripped noodles, you will understand. This is no ordinary ramen.
Do yourself a favor, skip the available cans of soda and instead opt for their homemade cold jasmine tea (sweetened or unsweetened)—it perfectly cuts the spice that a coke cannot handle. There are four locations, including one in Queens, most of which are too busy to count on during lunch time; visit for a late lunch or early dinner and you'll be thankful. (You may also find a seat!)
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Chinese Regional Cuisine in the East Village
I wanted to love this place.
I had read other bloggers' raves and seen line-ups fill the tiny dining room here over the course of my one-week stay in the East Village, so I figured it had to be a gem, a real neighbourhood favorite.
Also, it was one of many regionally specific restaurants I tried in the East Village (like Zabb Elee), which also had me excited. While Zabb Elee was Isan Thai, Xi'an was Western Chinese.
Maybe we should have ordered the pork.
Fact is, we both ordered lamb noodle soups (I got the sweet and sour lamb dumpling soup while my lunch date had the spicy lamb cumin soup), and we both found them disagreeable for different reasons.
Although the ingredients seemed fresh and everything else about this place seemed promising, the spicy lamb soup was so spicy (despite having asked for it mild) as to block all sensations but (painfully) hot. My dumplings were tasty at first, but by the second bite tasted too heavy to eat enjoyably, despite the fresh kick of the coriander leaves.
I would definitely go back. Something about the line-ups and write-ups, and even a completely irrational hunch, tell me it deserves a second chance. I just might get pork instead of lamb next time.