by Melissa Kravitz
As a recent college graduate, I’m constantly on the lookout for food that’s cheap, delicious, and filling—a rare find in New York City, where a bagel with cream cheese can cost upwards of $7.
Walk down Saint Mark’s Place and step in line for the
Chinese restaurant that meets all the conditions for a hungry foodie making an
hourly wage: Xi’an Famous Foods. Typical
for a Manhattan food queue, the crowd is always abuzz with menu suggestions and the air of anxiety that people have whilst fiddling with their cash and
waiting to order.
The menu is simple: 16 photos of traditionally prepared
Western Chinese food are posted on the wall, and as you step up to order an A1 Liang
Pi Cold Skin Noodles ($4.50) or a C4 Lamb Pao-Mo Soup ($7), you can dictate
the level of spiciness (1-4) you desire.
As a girl who can handle her spice (read: a generous dose of Sriracha is
added to all my meals) the mild level of spiciness is usually satisfactory. Seriously, beware.
party, have a seat at one of the few tables in the Saint Mark’s shop, and watch a
video loop of Anthony Bourdain visiting the restaurant on No Reservations, as you wait for your order number to be
called. The Xi’an experience is malleable: you can
dine by yourself and not feel lonely at one of the 12 seats in the restaurant,
share various dishes with friends, or order take-out and walk to Tompkins
Square Park to make it a date.
|Xi’an was featured on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations|
The texture of Xi’an’s food is phenomenal. The cold noodles are both soft yet have an al
dente bite to them, excellently slurping up the sauce while still maintaining
the consistency of a freshly made rice noodle. The bits of seitan in various dishes are a tad chewy, and foreign to
those who have never had such a substance, but act as a tough sponge to absorb
even more of the fragrant sauces and balance out the starchiness of a solid
noodle dish. Dishes are garnished with
fresh bean sprouts, cucumber shreds, and cilantro, adding another twist of
crisp texture and clean flavor to the already aromatic dishes.
Xi’an operates on a no-nonsense basis. Don’t ask for recommendations; their most
popular dishes are listed, if you’re curious.
Know that dishes taste better if served in-house on a Styrofoam plate
rather than in a take-out container (their opinion, not mine). Beware of excessive spiciness and don’t
complain if your tongue starts burning.
$10, Xi’an is the perfect spot for anyone short on cash (or time!) who still
wants to indulge in quality international food.
Dishes like the Chang-an Spicy Tofu ($2) or the Spicy Cumin Lamb Burger
($3) offer a quick protein fix cheaper and tastier than pretty much anywhere
else in the city.
|The Spicy Cumin Lamb Burger –courtesy of Xi’an|