With a bit of anticipation due to positive reviews on the internet and a lot of high-profile press, we tried Xi'an for dinner. From the start, they make it clear they dictate the take-it or leave-it terms: No credit cards, no servers (so clear the table after you're done, please), almost no counter space (and certainly no tables) and no tap water. That last was the most inconvenient "no" of all, as the food was very salty. It almost seemed like a business strategy: Make the customers thirst to death and offer nothing free to drink. If the amount of business they're getting was any indication, though, a lot of people were falling for it.
|Ox Tail Noodles|
The Buckwheat Cold Noodles came with too much cilantro for the kids to enjoy and the acidity was a bit strong. The noodles also didn't have the elasticity that I would have wanted.
|Stewed Pork Burger|
Of all puffery about Xi'an Famous Foods on the internet, though, what I found most difficult to justify is the praise for their Stewed Pork Burger. The meat was dry and it passed among the four of us with nobody wanting to finish it.
Of the more than 250 reviews I've given, I know this seems to be one of the harshest. I don't mean it to be, though. The saltiness and the overdone pork aside, there'd good food to be had here. However, for a restaurant that clearly puts its customers in their place (see above), and given that this is New York, I expected a lot and Xi'an just didn't deliver. Not on food quality and certainly not on hospitality.
Xi'an Famous Foods
25 W 45th St.
New York, NY 10036