We all know that living in New York affords us the ability to travel without leaving the city, and few destination neighborhoods offer as much variety as Flushing, Queens. Even a short trip here is enough to realize how lazy a term ‘Chinatown’ is. Many of the restaurateurs in that neighborhood have begun to capitalize on this, highlighting their regional identity and scoring great reviews in the New York Times while attracting more western eaters to endure the 7 train in exchange for a cheap, delicious meal. Few have done so with the marketing skill of Xi’an Famous Foods, which has now gone one better and recently opened up shop on the corner of Bedford and Manhattan Avenues in Greenpoint, thus sparing us the pre-dinner commute to Queens.
I’ve had their cumin lamb noodles in three places now: in the basement of the Golden Mall, with a cloth napkin in my lap at their sit-down restaurant Biang!, and now here in Greenpoint. I’m both happy and sad to say that nothing has changed between the different locations. Both the new shop here and the one in Flushing have all the ambiance that porcelain tiling and unadorned steel will get you, and the cumin they use at Biang! tastes pretty much the same despite the waiter service.
Make no mistake: the food here is good, but you already knew that. I’m not totally convinced they don’t only serve one dish, as everything has more or less the same cumin-cilantro-sichuan peppercorn-chili oil bite with slight variations in texture. It was certainly consistent across the noodles ($8.25), Chang’an Spicy Tofu ($2.50), Tiger Vegetables Salad ($4.75), and burger ($3.50). If you like the taste trick that Xi’an Famous Foods does, you’ll find they do it well here, even if along with it they offer no more ambiance than the McDonald’s at Greenpoint Avenue. If this flavor combination isn’t for you, you won’t find anything new in this opening. Either way, it will save you forty-five minutes on the train.
Xi’an Famous Foods is a 648 Manhattan Avenue.
They are open Monday-Thursday 11:30AM-9:00PM, and Friday & Saturday 11:30AM-10:00PM. They are currently accepting cash only.