As Snowmaggedon and the Polar Vortex continue to grip the City in their icy clutches, warming comfort foods have become my go-to choice for soul-satisfying sustenance. It’s hard to beat an intensely-flavored, brothy noodle soup with strong notes of fiery spice: And when I can indulge that craving along with a sampling some of my Far Eastern favorites…even better.
Cue the mother of all Chinese comfort foods: Spicy cumin lamb hand-ripped noodles in soup. There are a few places around the City that prepare this culinary masterpiece, but none can compare with the rich version served at Xi’an Famous Foods.
Xi’an Famous Foods has a few locations throughout the 5 boroughs but, the original stall can be found in the narrow winding depths of Flushing’s underground food malls.
Most of the familiar Chinese cuisine in America have come from the Szechuan, Hunan or Cantonese provinces, which are responsible for the hoisin, sweet and sour, scallion and sesame oil flavors many of us have grown to love. Dishes such as congee, lo mien and Peking duck are just a few of the familiar specialties from these regions.
At Xi’an Famous Foods however, the menu is from Xi’an in the Northwestern corner of the country. Shaanxi cuisine, as it referred to, relies heavily on pork and lamb, placing an emphasis on savory spices like cumin, sugar, garlic and chili that highlight Middle Eastern influence over the region. This delicate balance between spicy and rich flavors is both provocative and comforting, and unlike any other in China.
At Xi’an Famous Foods all the dishes leave a lasting impression. But it’s the spicy cumin lamb hand-ripped noodles in soup—aka Dish Ns1—that’s the stand out star.
It may be a few years before I make it to the Xi’an Province, but a visit to Xi’an Famous Foods makes me feel as though I’ve already been there.
Featured image courtesy of New York Natives; Photographer: Sarita Dan