Was there ever a time when you didn’t trust the high standing opinion of Andrew Zimmern, Anthony Bourdain, or Adam Richman? Okay so maybe there’s some things Zimmern gets into that would give me the heeby jeebies – you know, like fresh beating heart. But, for the most part, if it’s been tried, tested and loved by any of these three iconic eaters, I am so there for the tasting!
I first saw Xi’an Noodles on Bizarre Foods, an episode where Zimmern actually takes on noodle tearing in the chain’s China Town location. Though I was in process of falling asleep, I made sure to get out of bed just to get some paper to write this name on. There, next to my bed, the paper sat not looked at for a few months, until I randomly came across it the other day and said, “oh yeah”.
So glad that I saw that paper when I did. I was meeting Kirsten (of Kirsten Alayna Travels) for dinner just a few days later, and she said the magic words. “We are still on, but it has to be el cheapo – as in dumplings or food truck”. Had I not seen that paper when I did, Xi’an probably would’ve slipped my mind.
I went there directly from work, and almost missed the place because it is so small…the first indicator that I would love it, as hole in the wall eateries (nondescript and secretly delicious) really are my favorite . With about 12 chairs lined against small counters around the space, comes a flow of people constantly moving in and out in good rhythm. As one orders, another is finishing, kind of a perfect rotation for the minute space.
Despite the day’s heat I still wanted soup…I’m a soup freak, eat it daily, might spontaneously combust if I don’t. Seriously. I was internally torn between the stewed pork and the stewed oxtail, and while the guy at the counter said they taste pretty much the same, he suggested the oxtail in the end.
The soup was perfect…everything I imagined it to be, and more. The noodles were flawlessly cooked and torn, the meat was falling off the bone (and seasoned just right – with a flavor similar to pot roast), the cabbage still a bit crisp, the green onions blanched lightly by the boiling broth, and the cilantro added a refreshing final touch to the concoction. Though many people eat here to savor the spicy goodness that Xi’an serves, I ask for my soup with just a little Sriracha to liven it up.
On a cooler day I’m sure Kirsten and I would’ve finished our plates, but with noses running (mine from hot broth, hers from spicy sauce) we left contentedly full of noodle love, with intentions to return (probably very soon).
81 St Marks Pl
New York, NY 10003