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What to get from X'ian if you're from LA

In my rare trips to NYC, I've never bothered to eat in a Chinese restaurant. I figured what could I be missing being from LA. Was never interested in NY-style Chinese like Chop Suey, etc.

However, this time I want to visit X'ian - almost just to say I've been. What should I get from there? Not the biggest lamb fan so I'm a little hesitant to get the lamb burger. Other suggestions please?

One more thing: Motorino Pizza or South Brooklyn Pizza (in east village)?

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  1. Liang Pi cold skin noodles are required eating....

    1. There are many pork dishes that kill at Xi'an. And I'm not sure you guys have anything comparable to them in LA, so it wouldn't be a wasted trip.

      The Mt. Qi Pork Noodles are a personal favorite. I've noticed they don't make them as spicy as they used to (catering to American tastes, I guess) but they're still booming with flavor, and you can ask for it extra spicy if you want... though you always run the risk of them going overboard if you do that.

      My main recommendation would be to go to the location at the East Broadway Mall (the entrance is technically on Forsyth, even though the address listed is 88 East Broadway) - it'd be the least busy. There's a standing counter to eat at, but if it's full you can take your food to go and sit under the Manhattan bridge and eat there, or in any number of nearby little parks.

      4 Replies
      1. re: sgordon

        Seriously - you eat under the Manhattan Bridge? Sitting?

        1. re: mitchleeny

          Why not? There's those ledges along Division Street by the Xianjing cart. Might grab a skewer or two while I'm there. Or if the weather's nice, I'll walk up Forsyth to Sara Roosevelt Park.

          Used to be you could go use the tables in the Mall downstairs, but it seems now they're only for use by customers of the one restaurant down there.

        2. re: sgordon

          Thanks, it looks like I'll be trying the Liang Pi and Mt. Qi Pork noodles (what' does mt. stand for?)

          1. re: Beignets

            Mt. as in Mount as in Mount Qi - about 75 miles west of Xian, site of a famous battle in the Warring States Period.

        3. Motorino is excellent but closer in spirit to something like Mozza. Whole pies only. Sit down.

          South Brooklyn is closer to traditional gas oven NY, but not precisely. It's a slice joint, though, so you could conceivably just do it as a snack in between meals. More of a takeout style place.

          2 Replies
          1. re: kathryn

            I've had just one pretty meh experience at Mozza - i think your saying that the style of pie and the fact that its a sit down place are simmilar, but id rate Motorino much much better.

            1. re: kathryn

              ok, i get the picture... small sized, brick oven, italian-style = motorino
              classic gas oven NY = SBP

            2. Liang pi noodles, cumin scented lamb noodles, lamb burger and South Brooklyn Pizza. I found Motorino to be meh.

              1. At Xi'an, don't miss out on the liang pi noodles or the spicy tingly beef if you're a fan of Sichuan peppercorns. If you want to be converted to lamb love, you ought to give the lamb face salad a try. The dressing alone makes it all worthwhile.

                For all it's popularity, I have never been a fan of the burgers. The one-note cumin flavor that seems to be popular in Western Chinese grilling seems rather dull to me.

                9 Replies
                1. re: JungMann

                  I agree. I much prefer the lamb noodles over the lamb burger.

                  1. re: JungMann

                    The pork burger is vastly superior to the lamb, though the major convenience (for me) has been the (relative) east of eating if i am on the run.

                    1. re: tex.s.toast

                      Really, the pork burger? Tried it once and really wasn't a fan. How does the lamb burger compare--same preparation just with different meat?

                      OP, definitely try some of the noodle dishes you see mentioned here.

                      1. re: crsin

                        yes. lamb burger is the same bun-type thing but with lamb - the seasoning is quite different. The pork is star anise and a tiny bit sweet, the lamb is is heavy on the cumin with some chili spice, but mostly cumin.

                    2. re: JungMann

                      I don't think the lamb face salad is going to convert someone who doesn't like lamb over to it. I mean, if someone doesn't like something, you don't then offer them the most unappealing parts of it.

                      I'm kind of over the LFS, personally. Never cared for it much to begin with.

                      1. re: JungMann

                        What Xi'an might be missing on their "cumin" burgers is an ominously filled Gatorade (or similar) bottle of lemon juice and who knows what else, plus three small tins of three different spices. That might change your mind about the one-note quality (more like, have you been to China and tried its skewer stalls, seeing as you mentioned it as "Western Chinese?" I'm not arguing (the cumin is the clear winner in what you can taste in the lamb sandwiches, aka roujiamo), but some restaurants/stalls do a bit more justice.

                        Also, as if you haven't had enough cumin, Glico (the company that makes Pocky) sells crackers in China; among the flavors are welsh onion, cherry tomato, ma la tang/shao kao (bbq; one of those two), and cumin.

                        1. re: BuildingMyBento

                          BMB, your post could've been written by Samuel Foote. You lost me somewhere around "ominously filled Gatorade (or similar) bottle of lemon juice and who knows what else...".

                          Can you clarify your remarks?

                        2. re: JungMann

                          lamb face as in from the face of a lamb? I eat anything (chicken feet, offal, etc. ) but... hmm...

                          1. re: Beignets

                            Yes, the face of a lamb, cut up into bite-sized pieces.

                        3. I recommend both kinds of noodles. They have liang pi (cold skin) which uses wheat flour and rice flour, I think. The hand-ripped noodles are wheat noodles. You can get them with pork or spongy wheat gluten pieces. There is a pork burger too if you don't like lamb but want a burger (it's ok... meaty and cheap).

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: el Mitch

                            oh, this sounds good... 2 diff noodles, one with pork and the other with the gluten pieces, thanks.

                          2. The cumin lamb hand ripped noodles (the ones not in a soup) are my favorite dish there. I'll usually get that and a bowl of paomo - lamb broth soup with chopped pieces of bread in it. That and a cup of suanmeitang (sour plum drink).

                            1. As a vegetarian, I religiously get the N8, the Spicy Hot Oil Noodles, as well as the Tiger Vegetable Salad. Even if you don't order the N8, I highly recommend the salad as a refreshing contrast to the noodles... Might have convinced me to go tonight...

                              1. toss together in a bowl, then eat:

                                liang pi, extra spicy
                                lamb leg, extra spicy
                                tiger veggies, extra spicy


                                7 Replies
                                1. re: avial

                                  I like spicy food, and I would say that ordering "extra spicy" at Xian is insane, for my spice tolerance. The spicy items are plenty spicy when ordered normally.

                                  1. re: Pan

                                    eat more spicy foods and eat it more often, how else will you experience the wonderful fruity notes of a habanero without succumbing to the pain first?

                                    I've actually noticed that sriracha is a bit too spicy now and then because I don't eat as much spicy food as I used to.

                                    1. re: avial

                                      I eat spicy food all the time and used to live in Malaysia, thank you very much, where there is a saying "Tak ada cili, tak ada rasa," which means "No chili, no taste." Sriracha isn't that spicy. But extra spicy is not an order I can imagine making at Xian.

                                      1. re: Pan

                                        perhaps it matters which location? ive noticed that the east village spot sometimes isnt as spicy as im expecting it to be, in comparison to the e broadway location (and one meal i had at biang, where my nose was running and i had to mop my forehead often, but in the best way - and that was without any requests regarding spice level)

                                        1. re: tex.s.toast

                                          I've found the spice level to be a bit inconsistent - but I get the feeling they toned things down a little. Dunno. Last few times I've been it was little on the milder side. (I only go to the E Broadway location)

                                        2. re: Pan

                                          I've never found anything at Xi'an to be beyond my spice threshold except for the tiger veggies because you tend to hit a piece of raw pepper that is hotter than normal.

                                          For me, it seems that some sriracha bottles tends to be dry and thicker because of how they are stored I feel and as a result, can be more potent, some are thinner and not as potent.

                                          I find that the vinegar and soy sauce in the mix at Xi'an tends to compliment and placate the heat a lot which is why I always ask for extra spicy, this is the case for either their Golden Mall, E Broadway or EV locations.

                                          1. re: avial

                                            I've never had anything at Xian that was beyond my spice tolerance at all. I am a regular at the St Marks location. I suppose it's possible they make things spicier for me because the person at the counter usually is someone who recognizes me, but I don't see why they would, since I never ask for any special level of spiciness.

                                  2. Go for the lamb burger. It doesn't taste like lamb. And it's cheap. Some of the menu overlaps with Shaanxi Gourmet in San Gabriel, but the lamb burger doesn't.

                                    1. I'd agree, spiciness is inconsistant for each location. I can handle Xi'an's best, so I generally ask for extra spicy for everything... As for Motorino vs. South Brooklyn, go to Motorino for the pie, but check out South Brooklyn Pizza for the design (it's close to my pizza joint dream)... I love the mozz and tomatoes etc on display.

                                      1. I agree with those that say spicing has been inconsistent. I learned to order extra spicy. I end up getting the spice level that it used to be before they expanded.

                                        1. Lamb Dumplings. They just added them to the menu at Bayard street, I know because I go there once a week. Fantastic. Six plump thick skinned but tender dumplings bathed in a hot and sour puddle sprinkled with black and white sesame seeds and some slivers of green. Slow burn/tingle.