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Xi'an Famous Foods Opens Up Chinatown Branch A Week From Saturday

Who'd expect this kind of regional cuisine in Chinatown?

Saturday, December 19, 2009
10:00am - 9:00pm
88 East Broadway #106
New York, NY

Weather permitting.

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  1. The Flushing branch has pretty good liang pi and fantastic beef noodle soup (a perfect winter food). I'm thrilled that I'll be able to get these closer to home. Thanks for the heads up!

    6 Replies
    1. re: cimui

      Have you tried the handmade noodles with cumin lamb? Is the soup kind better?

      1. re: kathryn

        Hey Kathryn, I haven't tried the handmade noodles with cumin lamb, but I know my SO really loves it. Our system wrt the noodle soup is that I get to drink most of the soup and eat half of the beef, while he gets the noodles and the other half of the beef. (It's the whole wheat intolerance thing...) I do really love the beef noodle soup for the fantastic, no-shortcuts-taken broth. It's rich, fragrant and delicious. I'm pretty sure it cures colds, too. :)

        1. re: kathryn

          Kathryn, meant to report back: The soup kind is not better, it's just different. I love the handmade noodles with cumin lamb -- probably even better than I like the liang pi, though maybe that has to do with the current season.

          Have you tried the Chan-an spicy tofu or the pig's blood salad? They look very interesting, but I keep getting distracted from trying it by all the other stuff on the menu.

          Also, does anyone know whether *all* of the noodles sold at Xi'an are rice-based? I'm not sure I trust myself to be able to tell by looking.

          1. re: cimui

            I must also confess that I currently like the handmade noodles with lamb more than the liang pi, but it might also be because I'm burned out on the liang pi. It's hard for me to really try something new there since I'm so addicted to the lamb burger, liang pi, and handmade noodles. :\

            If you have a question about the ingredients, I'd email and ask. The fellow behind the counter at the Flushing Mall branch is fluent in English and confessed to being their web master (and recognized me from CH), so I'm guessing he's the one who answers email as well!

            1. re: kathryn

              Good advice. I've been afraid to try more than a few bites of the noodle since the color and texture look / taste like they could be a mixture of rice and wheat. (I know liang pi can sometimes be a mix.) Certainly doesn't hurt to e-mail and ask.

              And yes, I definitely know about the rut. I've been in one, too, and it's hard to get out when you have to travel a long way to eat there. Now that it's closer and a more frequent indulgence, I plan/hope to branch out!

              1. re: kathryn

                I emailed Xi'an as you suggested and received a reply within 12 hours, which I thought was pretty impressive. Unfortunately, both the liang pi and noodles contain wheat. The fellow who replied did list a number of dishes that don't include it, though:

                - Tiger Vegetables Salad (E1)
                - Pig Blood Pudding with Garlic (E2)
                - Spicy and Tingly Lamb Face Salad (E3)
                - Chang'an Spicy Tofu (E4)
                - Stewed Lamb Spine (F2)
                - Cumin Lamb Plate (F3)
                - All of our Lamb Soups(C1, C2, C3), except for Pao Mo Soup (item C4)

                Looks like there will be a lot more lamb face salad in my future. :)

        2. Here's a mention from a few days ago, with web site link and some talk about the Queens locations ... http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6670...

          1. Free burgers for registered patrons on opening day. They're taking this seriously--you have to show matching picture ID to pick up your treat.

            1. I will be visiting this address frequently. I have been hooked on the Liang Pi and burgers. There is so much more to try.

              I suspect that the opening may be delayed by Health Dept. approval. Various stalls in Flushing seem to receive close scrutiny.

              1 Reply
              1. re: MahatmaKanejeeves

                If you get a chance, you must try the noodles with lamb. It's basically the noodles of the liang pi plus the lamb from the lamb burgers rolled up into one. Perfect for a cold winter day -- though the beef noodle soup that cimui describes sounds awfully good as well.

              2. Um, not to jump the gun or anything, but they're open. Not grandly - nor even officially from what the proprietor's son told me when I ducked my head in tonight - but they started serving food yesterday afternoon. I grabbed a cumin lamb burger and liang pi noodle dish, along with a savory-sweet pulled pork burger right as they were closing up shop this evening around 7:30. And then I did a little dance in the street.

                Didn't ask if or when they'll be offering the full menu of soups and such - perhaps they are already - but everything I tried sang with flavor. Oh, and my noodles were all white rather than ribboned with the usual green and taro variations, but the dish was none the worse for it.

                4 Replies
                1. re: CalJack

                  Oh perfect. That means I have time to get over there before I have to skip town. Missing the official grand opening so I EXPECT REPORTS!!!! ;)

                  1. re: cimui

                    I was there for lunch today and it was terrific. I had two lamb burgers and one pork sandwich. The lamb burger is, for those who don't know, really more of a cumin,onion and pepper lamb stew on a bun. It was spicy with intense robust cumin flavor, wonderful. It left that nice low level spreading warmth in the mouth. The pork sandwich was spicy, slightly sweet and for my taste, a little to salty but still good. The bread is interesting. It appears in shape and size like an english muffin but to me, it tasted at times like the inside of a NY strreet pretzel, if that makes sense.
                    the place is tiny(see the picture on their web site)and the five people waiting to order and pick up their food filled the place.Two important things to note:
                    1. Although the address is 88 East Broadway,a giant indoor mall, Xi'an is located outside on the side of the building at #106. If it helps,old 'hounds may remember that Saigon Banh Mi was located at #108 right next door .
                    2. This is takeout only and with the current cold snap that is a problem. I took my stuff back to work. When things warm up I will sit in the nearby Rutgers Park or Columbus Park .
                    Finally, they seem to be in full swing. The guy behind the counter was banging out strips of dough, pulling them and after splitting them, dropping it into a pot on the tiny stove. Next to that was a giant crockpot looking cauldron bubbling away. I can't wait to return.

                    1. re: stuartlafonda

                      this is so awesome....this place is going to be so easy for me to get to and i eat there all the time in flushing

                      although after i found the ctown bus in flushing, flushing really isnt that far from me either anymore

                      1. re: stuartlafonda

                        Well eaten, stuartlafonda -- and many thanks for the report! I am vicariously enjoying your meal very much. (Two lamb sandwiches... Mmm!!!)

                  2. i still couldnt find it...i saw 104 and the next building was 88..very confused canvassed the area couldnt find it. there was a boarded up store front where i thought it would be

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: FrankieLymon

                      The building complex may be 88 East Broadway, but the Xi'an Famous Eats storefront is located on Forsyth between East Broadway and Division - it's still part of the same building, but it's around the corner from the main entrance at 88 East Broadway. The sign is highly visible from the street, and the all-glass exterior gives you a direct view into the action.
                      Hope you'll take another crack at finding this place FrankieLymon - I think it's among the most exciting additions to Manhattan Chinatown in years.

                      Xi'an Famous Foods
                      88 E Broadway, New York, NY 10002

                      1. re: CalJack

                        thanks for the help caljack, not only will i keep trying until i find it, but i can confidently say i will eat there several times a week.

                        1. re: CalJack

                          That's the problem with street numbering in New York, where the address of the entire parcel takes on the address of the frontage. It's not that way in other cities. There's restaurants in Flushing Chinatown that have a Main Street address but are almost a half block away from Main Street itself.

                        2. re: FrankieLymon

                          It is across the street from the Mayor Hotel.

                        3. Ate there last night with an old friend and chinatown eating buddy. I got the pork burger and cumin lamb noodles, he got the lamb burger and one of the lamb soups. My food was fantastic. The bun on the pork burger was like a cross between an english muffin and a cracker, if that makes any sense. Pork inside was a little fatty, but not in a bad way, and so flavorful. Lamb was intensely cumin-y and pretty spicy. The leftover bits of bread from the pork sandwich were great for sopping up extra lamb juice from the noodles. George's lamb burger tasted a lot like my noodles; very good but I think I liked the pork one better. And his soup was, to me, very szechuan-tasting. Also very good. My only complaint was the drinks - his sour hawberry wasn't very sour, and my drink ("the red one") tasted like kool-aid. It's a tiny little storefront, no chairs, barely room for 4 or 5 people to stand inside and order, but there is a little counter where we stood to eat. Also they spoke very little English. Ordering straight from the menu was not a problem, but trying to ask questions or get a takeout container for my leftovers (portions were big!) made me glad I was eating with a chinese-speaker. In any case, great food, very cheap, I'll be back for sure.

                          Has anyone had the Mount Qi pork? I think that might be up for next time. Here's the website if anybody wants an advance look at the menu: www.xianfoods.com/

                          Xi'an Famous Foods
                          88 E Broadway, New York, NY 10002

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Emmmily

                            Finally made it back today. The Chang-an spicy tofu was kind of disappointing, a little sour and not very spicy, but the Mount Qi pork noodles were fantastically good, and of course the lamb burger. Ate it in the park over on Forsyth St. Great way to spend a spring afternoon.

                          2. I went here for lunch today. Loved it! I had the Cumin Lamb Noodles and the Tiger Salad. My noodles were rolled, stretched, pulled, and cooked to order. They were awesome with the perfect amount of springiness. The lamb was cuminy and tender, was not too fatty, and was definitely not gristly or gamey. This dish had a nice spice to it. I didn't think it was terribly spicy, but it was very flavorful and definitely had some heat. That said, I like spicy foods and can tolerate a lot of heat. The Tiger Salad was strangely addictive. I was only going to have a couple of bites because I was pretty much full from the noodles when I started. Somehow I ended up eating the whole thing. Portions were large; I still have half of my noodles (or maybe more) left over.

                            I will definitely be back. I would very much like to try the Chang-an Tofu (I'm a big fan of that sort of thing) and the pork and lamb sandwiches. Of course the famous liang pi noodles. And many of the various hand-pulled noodle dishes look worthy of exploration. I don't think I'll be trying the lamb face salad anytime soon though....

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: Westminstress

                              Although mentioned,it can't be stressed enough that this is a very small take out operation. Anyone wanting to come in from the Dickensian winter for great food and a sit down not find both of them here. Great food yes, sit down no.

                              1. re: wew

                                Anyone have any good recommendations for a nearby place to eat their food? Are there any food courts with tables that you can sort of sneak over to? I've tried going there and eating in the park, but it's a nasty rainy day today...

                                1. re: jakecola

                                  I went the other day and ate it in the bakery/ drink place a couple doors to the left on the corner. I asked the bakery women ahead of time and we purchased some bread and our drinks there.

                                  1. re: jakecola

                                    Don't know of any food courts in the area with open seating like in Flushing. A couple of possibilities are the enclosed mall at 88 E. Broadway, to which Xi'an is attached, or the mall across the street at 75-85 E. Broadway. Perhaps you can find a spot inside one of these where you can unobtrusively eat your meal.

                                    1. re: Chandavkl

                                      in the basement of the 88 e bway mall there is seating, but there is a fujian restaurant down there and i think its all for that restaurant, so i dont know if they'd be cool with you eating outside food there

                                      1. re: Lau

                                        Yeah, I think it's the only eatery on that level so I kind of doubt that you'd be welcome.

                                        1. re: Chandavkl

                                          actually i know where you can go (assuming its not raining b/c its outdoors), walk straight up forsyth past the track and the high school and there is a park at hester and forsyth that i believe has tables

                                          Or you could walk to columbus park on bayard and mulberry and sit there

                                          1. re: Lau

                                            I've "dined" a number of times in Roosevelt Park and Columbus Park, which are reasonably convenient. I've also used Chatham Square in a pinch, too. That might be a little closer.

                              2. i went today and its excellent. i got the lamb burger (yang rou jia mo) and the tiger vegetable salad (lao hu cai). People aren't kidding when they say its small, the place is really tiny.

                                - Lamb burger - The lamb burger tasted very similar to the flushing branch although it was slightly more oily, but still excellent.
                                - Tiger vegetable salad - ive never actually ordered this before. It was interesting, its chopped up green spicy peppers, cilantro and bean sprouts topped a mild light sauce. I didn't love it although it was decent

                                overall, this is an awesome addition to ctown and i look forward to trying more

                                1. this is great news. i cant wait to try the liang pi here -- although its still addictively tasty it has gone downhill a bit in queens. the cumin lamb sandwich is pretty hard to screw up so i'm sure that will be fine.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: mrnyc

                                    there was a guy eating it in the place and it looked the same although ill obviously have to try it. The lady was pushing it actually, she was telling me it was their house specialty and asking me if i would i like to try it, but i had enough food already, but ill be back there soon, probably next weekend, so i can try it then....i think im literally going to try their entire menu and figure out whats the best

                                    1. re: Lau

                                      Do let us know - I live in CT ad only get down to NYC every month or two, so advance knowledge of what's good is much appreciated. And the spicy tofu looks intrigueing!

                                      1. re: Emmmily

                                        im pretty sure i know what that tastes like b/c its an very silky tofu (there are different grades of tofu depending on home water you let stay in the tofu and this one is very soft), but ill have to see how their sauce is that they put on it....i've had stuff like this before, but the toppings always tastes different vendor to vendor

                                        ive had the liang pi before if that wasn't clear and its very good, i just haven't eaten it at this branch

                                  2. Back to Xi'an Famous Foods for lunch today. It seems they have been written up in NY Magazine. Also, channel 25 was filming a food show there when we walked in. By the time we left there was a big long line despite the freezing cold. Everyone had to wait outside. And the line doesn't move too quickly, as they are making everything to order.

                                    This time I tried the lamb burger and the spicy chong'an tofu. I liked the lamb burger, but not as much as the cumin lamb noodles. The lamb is the same in both dishes, but the burger is quite a bit meatier than the noodles. The noodles are so much more delicious than the bun that for me it is no contest as to which is the better dish.

                                    I wasn't crazy about the tofu. I was surprised, because I normally LOVE soft spicy tofu. This was very soft tofu and there were a few sauces mixed in (vinegar and hot oil) as well as a sprinkling of cilantro. The aroma was tantalizing but the flavors weren't there for me. I thought it was too oily, and the sauce was more vinegary than hot. I thought the sauce was too sour. I probably won't order this again.

                                    I will still be back to try more items as I intend to eat my way through the noodle offerings, and I'll keep reporting back. So far, though, cumin lamb noodles are the definite winner!

                                    11 Replies
                                    1. re: Westminstress

                                      All of these reviews are mouthwatering...lots of items to add to my list. I hadn't seen these posts previously so when I stumbled upon this place last weekend I thought it was a hidden gem--well, until I noticed the Anthony Bourdain photos. It was not a meal time so there was space at the tiny counter to stay in from the cold. The meat in the lamb burger was almost ridiculously good. The bun was not. I will definitely go for the noodles next time.

                                      1. re: NancyC

                                        Yeah the lamb burgers are great. I had the spicy and tingly noodles, which while very spicy, I felt the broth lacked roundness and was kind of one note. I will probably get the liang pi noodles next time (or other non-broth noodles). I love the hand-torn noodles.

                                        1. re: ChiefHDB

                                          Just thought I'd point out that they are getting ridiculously swamped around prime mealtimes, with waits running as long as 30-40 minutes from the time I've shown up. I guess that's par for the course given all the attention they've been receiving. It's inconvenient, but my romance with the food remains intact, with the following notes and caveats:

                                          - whereas the broth in their soups started out sharp and complex, it has been a bit murky and gamey of late at the new location, to the point that I find it dulls and detracts from the flavors of the other ingredients

                                          - the cumin lamb noodles remain a knockout dish; I've also enjoyed the Mount Qui noodles for a spicy-sour variation, and the Zha-Jiang noodles when I'm craving a richer soy-heavy bite.

                                          - the thick, uneven hand-stretched noodles here might be unique within manhattan chinatown. The closest comparison I can come up with is the knife-shaved noodles offered at a few shops, but the soft-yet-springy texture of Xi'an's noodles truly stands out.

                                          - the meat quality is often hit or miss, particularly with non-stewed lamb and beef dishes. Don't order these if you're squeamish about fat and occasional gristle.

                                          - the tiger vegetables are an all-out spice assault.

                                          - the chang-an tofu dish adds some interesting depth to the usual ginger syrup dofu-hua preparation. The prominent chili oil and notes of sesame make it almost too rich for my tastes (I've always enjoyed how light this dish seemed in comparison to similarly-textured custards in other cuisines). Almost.

                                          1. re: ChiefHDB

                                            Finally got there last weekend. Both the lamb burgers and the pork sandwich are as good as those in the Flushing stall but I miss bantering with the owner. This is a great addition to the neighborhood. I just wish there was a reasonably comfortable place to eat the soups.

                                            1. re: Steve R

                                              I went back and had the stewed pork burger. SO delicious, and this time the bun was toasty and pliant and just overall excellent...it adds so much, even if the lamb was already good last time. Love this place.

                                              1. re: NancyC

                                                i only tried this place once in flushing, i didnt like the pork burger that much, i liked the lamb a lot better. it kind of reminds me of halal skewer meat except it's wet. do any of u guys know if the quality here is better than flushing?

                                                1. re: daffyduck

                                                  i like the lamb much better than the pork as well. I think te quality is close, but slightly worse, still very good though

                                                  1. re: daffyduck

                                                    I also prefer the lamb. Pork is kind of blah to me. Having been to all three locations, I think quality can be hit and miss at all of them. Depends on how many people are waiting for their food and who's cooking. I got a premade lamb burger at the Flushing Mall location that I was just raving about a few weeks prior. It was during the lunar New Year celebration so I'm hoping they just did this to combat the potential crowds.

                                                    I will say that if you plan on ordering noodles or a soup and getting to Flushing isn't a pain for you, you're probably better off eating in Flushing. There really is no seating at the Manhattan location. I ate my noodles out in the freezing cold making a huge mess.

                                                    1. re: Miss Needle

                                                      I've picked up soups and noodles and brought them on the subway back to Midtown -- it may be difficult to hold out so long before eating it, but they do hold up well in travel!

                                                2. re: Steve R

                                                  Inhaled an order of cumin lamb noodles last weekend - what a great dish. Spicy, smoky, tangy and the noodles are wonderfully chewy. Eager to try the Mount Qi pork noodles and the liang pi.

                                                  It takes longer to get your order at the Manhattan location compared to the one in Flushing but so far, the food is just as good. As far as a place to eat, I headed over to the park behind Pace High School, at Canal and Chrystie, and sat on a bench. Not the greatest during the winter, but should be nice once the weather warms up.

                                                  1. re: kdgchow

                                                    Actually a good place to stop and eat is Sara Roosevelt park. It's not that far away and I've always found empty benches suitable for eating in the park right around Grand and Chrystie.

                                          2. I stopped in on this nasty rainy night for the Mount Qi Vegetables Hand-Pulled Noodles in Soup, which I don't see mentioned yet on this thread. And I got to watch my noodles being hand-pulled (and ripped in half lengthwise), which was very cool. It's a nice, hearty, filling meal, but it didn't exactly rock my world, perhaps because by the time I got back to my apartment, the noodles had clumped together into a doughy softball and were nearly impossible to pry free from one another. There was a fine variety of toppings - potato, wood ear, tofu, bean sprout, carrot, and (I think) lily bud - but since they were scooped en masse from a quart size tupperware container, they were kind of soggy and mushed together. I'll go back for the liang pi, and the spicy tofu, once the weather improves.

                                            6 Replies
                                            1. re: small h

                                              I was back at Xi'an again today myself, but this time I could not resist the siren song of the cumin lamb noodles, so I have nothing new to report except that they were delicious once again! The texture of the noodles is the best part. I can see how the noodles might get soggy sitting in soup. I really urge you to try the noodles sans soup -- I bet you'll like them a lot better. Also, I have found that the non-soup noodles hold up to travel and delays very well. And in fact when you reheat them in the microwave the next day they are still pretty good.

                                              1. re: Westminstress

                                                I will certainly consider your advice on my next visit. I thought that the broth would keep the noodles from seizing up during their ride on the M22. Obviously, I was grievously mistaken.

                                                1. re: small h

                                                  I had similar problems and also felt the broth to be lacking. Next time noodles sans soup + lamb face.

                                              2. re: small h

                                                Noodles in soup don't travel well, which is why some places will package the noodles separately from the soup...see if they can do this next time. The oily non-soup Mount Qi pork noodles were one of the best dishes I've had all year.


                                                1. re: Peter Cherches

                                                  glad you confirmed, i really want to try those....maybe ill go this weekend

                                                  1. re: Peter Cherches

                                                    I concur. I may actually like these even better than the lamb cumin noodles. They had a little more heat and a really nice, slightly sour tang.

                                                2. I really want to like Xi'an and very much appreciate that they don't appear to have altered their food for a Gringo audience, but after two visits where I sampled 6 different dishes, I fail to understand the tremendous praise. The noodles themselves are well above average, with a pleasantly chewy texture absent at too many other places, but the sauces on both the Liang Pi noodles and Mount Qi pork noodles were forgettable, lacking in both the heat and complexity that others have noted. The lamb burger was fine, but it really didn't taste of anything other than cumin - I happen to like cumin, but perhaps more so as a complementary flavor than as the predominant one. The lamb face salad was unique and - perhaps my favorite dish, though not at all for the squeamish. Conversely, even as an adventurous eater, I was unable to stomach the lamb offal soup, which was overly gamey and which tasted, for lack of a better word, off (it was packed with offal though, so if you can stomach it, you'll find it filling).

                                                  Despite my moderately negative mini-review, Xi'an is unlike most other Chinatown restaurants, which alone makes it worth a try. Just be sure to arrive by 5pm to avoid the crowds.

                                                  1. I was at Xian again today with a couple of coworkers. This time I had the spicy and tingly beef noodles. The noodles were as great as always and I really liked the spicy and tingly sauce (lots of ma la flavor). The beef itself was eh, definitely not as tasty as the lamb and I have no wish to try it again. I think I would really like this dish in a vegetarian version, and I may ask if they can do that in the future. The sauce was great. My coworker had the Mount Qi Pork noodles and liked them. I had a bite of the pork, found it a bit dry but the flavor was excellent with a very nice sourness. I think I'll try a full order of these noodles next time.

                                                    I also had the Tiger Vegetable Salad again. This time it was so incendiary that I couldn't eat it without picking out a LOT of hot peppers, and I still only got halfway through it. Which is saying a lot as I have quite a tolerance for spice.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Westminstress

                                                      Just a follow up to add that the spicy and tingly beef noodles were not good at all as a leftover the next day. This was surprising as the cumin lamb noodles hold up very well.

                                                    2. went back last night with my chinese tutor who also likes food alot and tried two different dishes:
                                                      - lamb face salad (ma la yang lian rou): this was awesome; the sauce is sort of spicy with a little bit of a vinagrette type sour flavor going on, actually very light, doesn't taste heavy or oily at all. The salad itself is made up of cilantro, bean sprouts and a type of melon although i'm blanking on what its called right now. The lamb meat is made up of sort of tendon-y meat looks a bit weird, but not gamey at all and i liked it. Overall, this is one of the better dishes i've had at xian famous foods. I really like it alot. It was very light and refreshing, the lady told me that it wouldn't be enough food for me although I thought it was just enough, i was full but not like stuffed. She also said that most restaurants charge alot for this dish and their price was very reasonable.
                                                      - stir fried liang pi (chao liang pi): my chinese tutor ordered this, tasted the same as the regular liang pi, but was stir fried...excellent; feels a little more filling even though its exactly the same just stir fried

                                                      btw they've got a new dish that she was recommending although i'm sure most people will shy away from it as its a testicle soup, she showed it to us as she convinced another patron to get it to go, she put the sliced up testicle as the bottom of the bowl, then filled with with a off white semi murky broth, threw in some greens and hot oil (its not on the menu yet)...it actually looked and smelled really good although i forgot what it was called in chinese. I'm curious as she was saying that its a really good dish

                                                      1. Y'know, I have to say that I've been eating here at least twice/month for almost a year and the last few times have been actually disappointing. For one thing, the noodles, which have always been stellar, were literally hard dough in some spots--they weren't pulled long enough or split as many times as they should have been. In addition, the dish that I usually order has always contained sprouts which I very much enjoy because they not only add texture but soak up the yummy sauce as well. I was pretty surprised last time to find NO sprouts in my meal and this time I had to ask for them. And while the heat from the seasoning was detectable, not much else was going on. The bright flavors that I find myself jonesing for were entirely absent, as though the server had forgotten to add an essential component when dressing the noodles. And the fact that this coincides with a price hike (admittedly, a very small one) just adds insult to injury.
                                                        My recent experiences have persuaded me not to order on Mondays and Tuesdays. I really hope the rest of the week doesn't follow suit.

                                                        10 Replies
                                                        1. re: MacGuffin

                                                          That is so interesting MacGuffin, because I finally tried Xi'an for the first time today and was not at all impressed. I had a lamb burger and a lamb face salad, and was struck by the saltiness of both, but really no complexity or heat. Cumin lamb tasted of cumin and salt, couldn't detect any lamb flavor, and the lamb face salad was soggy with oil; at least here I got a little lamb flavor, and could even detect a really nice cinnamon undertone in a few of the pieces, but overall, a HUGE disappointment to me, based on all the raves I've ever seen. I wonder, based on your post, whether there has been a turn for the worse here? Anyone else been disappointed recently?

                                                          1. re: sir chowalot

                                                            A lot the dishes on the menu are oily. I love the cumin lamb burger but because of its super-cumin-y-ness. Never really been impressed with the lamb face salad. The dishes to get IMO are the hand pulled cumin lamb noodles and the liang pi. (Both are kind of oily though).

                                                            1. re: kathryn

                                                              Considering that my favorite dish is "hot oil seared," oil isn't a problem for me. I'd just have to reiterate my comment. It's a shame because I'm STILL craving the food as I remember it; unfortunately, I've become wary. :`(
                                                              I'm hoping this was just a few off days with a bad cook. I guess time will tell but twice in a row is kind of discouraging.

                                                              1. re: MacGuffin

                                                                Update: I gave it a shot today and my food was very much up to par. In fact, it was exactly the way it was the first time I ate there. Granted, there were no yummy gluten chunks but their companion icky carrots were also missing and there were bean sprouts, so that was okay. It seems that Friday's a good day to order, at least for my palate.

                                                              2. re: kathryn

                                                                I had a really subpar lamb burger recently (Saturday 6/11/11) from the East Broadway location. What struck me about it was that there was NO oil! Two seconds after I ordered the lamb burger, the woman handed me over the package. I once had a terrible experience from a premade lamb burger but at least this one was warm. But the spicing (heat, salt and cumin) was majorly tamed down. No oily residue in the bag or on the bun. I saw a couple of vats of lamb boiling in water and its own juices on the stove. I'm hoping it was an aberration. If anybody has more recent reports, would appreciate to hear of it.

                                                                1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                  I had a really good lamb burger from that location a couple of weeks ago, so I hope your experience was an aberration.

                                                                  I've definitely noticed some inconsistency in the past, but this particular burger was as good, or better, than it's ever been.

                                                                  I imagine they get exhausted sometimes because they're so swamped with customers, but yeah, I wish they were more consistent. Though nothing I've gotten there has ever been terrible, but I don't go that often.

                                                                  1. re: Ike

                                                                    Is there any qualitative difference between the two Chinatown locations? (Bayard versus East Broadway.)

                                                                    1. re: Ike

                                                                      Oh I hope so. This was actually at an off hour so they weren't too busy at all. I was a bit alarmed to see the pots of non-oily lamb simmering. I was wondering if the main cooks were sent to the Bayard location and the East Broadway was full of newbies.

                                                                      Well, I think I read in the Times that the owner's son reads this board and notes every detail. I hope he's noting this one.

                                                                      1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                        I've always thought their pork burger was better than the lamb. Xian is creating a commissary in Brooklyn (if they haven't already) to centralize food prep.

                                                                        1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                          I've spoken to him a few times in the East Broadway store; he's a good guy and takes the business very seriously. I'm glad he's keeping on top of things.