My new job is in Astor Place. This means I’m steps away from St. Marks and just blocks away from Union Square. This is my absolute favorite area of town. I’ve explored all sorts of areas of the city, and I find that there’s something to love about each one. I’ve recently fallen a little more in love with China town, and working in Tribeca gave me an appreciation for lower Manhattan, but I always come back to Union Square and St. Marks Place.
A photographer friend of mine lives in this area and knows all the best spots. We were IMing one day and decided to have lunch since he worked fairly close by. ”Let’s go to Xi’an Famous Foods” he suggested. ”They’ve got these amazing noodle dishes and it’s super spicy.”
Well, everyone knows I’ve got a thing for spicy foods, so it’s not hard to talk me into trying something new if it’s spicy. I’ve mentioned before that I used to be an extremely picky and scared eater and was afraid to try anything new unless I was absolutely sure I’d like it. I’m clearly over that because I did not even hesitate when the suggestion was made. ”I’m in.” I said quickly. (I mean, spicy AND noodles? Of course I’m in!)
A tiny hole in the wall restaurant on St. Marks, I did not know what to expect. I looked at the wall…tons of dishes with photos. Pork with noodles, noodle soups, lamb with cumin, “Spicy and Tingly Beef with Hand Ripped Noodles” I confidently stated. Decision made.
"Get the Hawberry Tea." Chris suggested.
"I only really drink water." I replied very directly. For those of you who don’t know me well, I am almost strictly a water, coffee and wine drinker. Oh, and margaritas. I’ve never been a fan of carbonation, ever since I was a little kid. Soda is not my cup of tea, and I don’t drink beer, or champagne. I also just never really got into tea.
"It’s the best thing to wash the spicy food down with. It’s really refreshing, I promise it’s good." He worked to convince me.
"And one Hawberry Tea." I said to the man at the register. Hey, if I’m going in, I’m going in. Why stop with trying new foods, right?
This particular location seats about 15 people total. We grabbed the first seat by the door and waited for our food. Chris explained that he and his coworkers LOVE making food runs here. He lives around the corner, but work is a bit further away, so any excuse he has to come down and grab lunch here he will. It seemed like they had a pretty loyal following. Everyone who came in knew exactly what they wanted and ordered confidently. Several people also ordered the tea.
The food came out and looked amazing. The noodles were broad, similar to pad kee mao or pad see ew, but these were a bit thicker and much longer. It was fairly difficult to eat at times because of how long the noodles were, but you could tell they were very fresh. The meat was tender and cooked perfectly, together enough to pick up with chopsticks, but not tough to eat at all. Very tender and juicy. And most importantly, it was very, very spicy. Every bite had a kick and a really nice flavoring of cumin. It was different than anything I had ever had in the realm of Asian foods.
Chris had a soup, with similar ingredients to mine, but in soup form. I’m not a huge soup person, but it looked and smelled amazing. Some guys at the table next to us looked to be having the oxtail, which also was surprisingly appetizing. We finished as much as we could (the portions were huge) and headed back to work, full and happy.
Looking forward to another lunch here and trying other things, especially the lamb burgers.