“Cheap Eats” is my post-series on cheap restaurants and prepared food options in New York. I recommend cooking your own food most of the time, but every once in a while it is nice to indulge and you don’t have to pay through the nose to do so. I plan to review many of the cheap options I find on various websites and will let you know if they are as good and as cheap as advertised. If you have a suggestion for a place to review, feel free to let me know through my contact page.
I am heading back to Chinatown, where it appears some of the best deals are. But good news! This next restaurant has a few different locations for your convenience:
Xi’an Famous Foods
- Chinatown: 67 Bayard St (map)
- East Village: 81 St. Mark’s Place (map)
- Midtown: 24 w 45th St (map)
- Upper West: 2675 Broadway (map)
I walked in around 12:30 – prime lunch time and was thrilled to see that it wasn’t too crowded. I even decided then and there that I would actually sit and eat there instead of taking the food back to my office. I went up to the counter and on the recomendation of various websites, I got the Liang Pi Cold Skin Noodles (I’ll be honest, I was a little turned off by the name).
The Cheap Eats Breakdown
How was the ordering experience? Very easy. There was a huge, wall menu to my left as I walked in with numbers (so I could just say, I’ll have an A1 instead of the full noodle name). The behind the counter, the lady who took my order was friendly and asked if I wanted my noodles spicy. Of course I did!
How unique is the food? Honestly, I have never had a similar dish in my life. Perhaps I am sheltered, but the cold, spicy noodles with spongy gluten were new to me. Also, the blend of sauces seemed pretty unique as well.
How delicious was the food? The first bite caught me by surprise. As I mentioned, these were different flavors than I was used to. But on the second and third bite, I had hit my stride and I LOVED it! The level of spicy-ness was perfect for me as well, but again, you can tell them not to make it spicy if you like.
Did it fill me up for $5 or less? Absolutely! The noodles were $4.75 at my location (I think they are $4.50 at some of their locations). I left feeling quite full. Quick tip, if you get the spicy version of the noodles, grab some napkins. It’s one of those spicy dishes that seems fine at first, but creeps up on you and by the end, you definitely need to blow your nose. Just the way I like it!
Conclusion: Xi’an Famous Foods ticks all the boxes for me! The restaurant had plenty of free seating, even at the height of the lunch rush and the food was different and delicious, all for under $5. I actually ended up getting their “pork burger” on the way out and at that around dinner time. It was also quite good, but definitely wouldn’t have sufficed for a full meal for me. At $3, though, it makes a good snack.
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