Over the span of the last year, I may have exhausted much of the original charm of Xian Famous Foods. Although the cumin-spiced lamb and fiery soup still hits the occasional craving, the quality has been a bit lacking of late from the St. Mark's location. So, in third-wheeling onto a pal's Chinatown lunch adventure, I was excited to find familiar looking fare at Henan Flavor, a warm, cozy spot on Forsyth.
We began our family-style meal with the griddled pork sandwich.
The bread was hot, crispy and delightful, similar to Xian, but the tender minced pork filling was merely fine, highlighted by cilantro but little else. Skippable at best.
Our second appetizer, egg and tomato lo mein was a homey, colorful bowl of sweet crushed tomatoes swirled with golden cooked egg.
It was a refreshing and light dish (how I felt so healthy eating this vegetarian dish!), but my spice-lusting heart yearned for something more..
...which was answered with the main event...
Oh, Big Tray of Chicken, how thy name suits thee well!
A glorious stainless steel tray piled high with jagged, handpulled noodles swimming in a crimson chili oil infused with Sichuan peppercorns and spices. The plate comes with only chicken, however, for a couple dollars more (and highly recommended), noodles can be added to the tray. The thick strands soak up the peppered oils perfectly.
Though the handpulled noodles lacked a bit of chewiness, the dish was so warm and comforting. The subtle heat graduated with each bite, a welcomed contrast to the freshness of the tomato lo mein.
The Big Tray is a dark meat lover's dream, juicy, flavorful and plentiful, though a little work is needed to maneuver around the bones.
I sometimes find myself thinking about this Big Tray of Chicken. I am not sure what it is - the simplistic name of the dish? The spicy Sichuan flavor?, but with other Henanese places in the New York area (including my favorite - Flushing (!)), a visit to Queens may be imminent in my future to see what else is going on in this Henanese scene.
New York, NY 10002