Being a chef at a fairly busy restaurant isn’t an easy task, to say the least, especially during the typical lunch-peak hours. And for many chefs one must think to themselves, “thank God for that post-lunch break.” Clearly one needs as many breaks in between then and the overwhelming amount of customers coming through for dinner time, right? Well, unfortunately for the newly opened Manhattan hot spot Xi’an Famous Foods, rest isn’t something they’re used to since recently opening its doors on the Upper West Side.
Au contraire, it doesn’t mean this is deemed as a bad thing for them—heck, business is booming for them. With lines wrapping around the corners and just poking out the doors (if they’re lucky), the Chinese themed restaurant is mostly jam packed throughout the day – for 10 hours straight.
“Orders came through so heavily that we ran out of space for order tickets,” says Jason Wang, the restaurant’s 25-year-old president and CEO. “[At most restaurants], things die down in mid-afternoon. But that didn’t happen on the Upper West Side.”
Serving hearty comfort food from the central China city of Xi’an (think spicy hand-stretched noodles rather than egg rolls), the restaurant has come a long way from its humble beginnings as a tiny, family-owned shop in the basement of Golden Shopping Mall in Flushing, Queens. Guided by Wang, an immigrant chef’s ambitious son, the restaurant today has locations in Greenpoint and several Manhattan neighborhoods, including the East Village, Midtown and now the Upper West Side.
It’s been an unlikely ascent for Wang and his father, David Shi. The elder restaurateur emigrated from Xi’an 12 years ago, five years after Wang — his only child — and Shi’s wife arrived stateside. He spent years helming kitchens in Chinese-American restaurants across the country before settling in Queens and opening his humble food stall in 2005. Shi built a menu of 30 or so street-food-style entrees, mostly centered around a chili-oil-intensive secret sauce — his own creation — and those wheat-based, hand-ripped noodles, served mostly to fellow Chinese immigrants.
Xi’an Famous probably would have remained a Flushing secret had Anthony Bourdain not bounded in with his “No Reservations” film crew one afternoon in 2008. At the time, lanky, spiky-haired Wang was off in St. Louis, working through his junior year at Washington University, studying marketing and business. “I got a phone call from my dad, telling me that a tall, famous guy showed up with camera people,” recalls Wang. “Suddenly, the restaurant became a destination.”
For a detailed read on Xi’an Famous Foods, its beginnings and what meals you can find there, hit NY Post for the full article or simply follow the link under this to check it out as well.
Source: NY Post