Lunch 11/6/21

Xi’an-style hand pulled noodles

To. Die. For.

Gene’s Flatbread Cafe is one of the most mis-named food businesses you can imagine. I mean, he does actually offer a type of flatbread sandwich with cumin-spiced chunks of lamb, but the actual speciality is these Xi’an-style hand-pulled noodles. There’s someone in the kitchen pulling them fresh all the time, and they come quickly cooked, swimming in the most intensely garlicky, peppery oil, and garnished with ground hot pepper and cilantro. I am sitting here sweating jut thinking about them.

We used to live about 10 minutes away from the Woburn location, and for a while we went on a kick of having these noodles for dinner every Friday night. Now, it’s not as convenient, so it’s more of an intentional visit than a spur-of-the-moment dinner or lunch choice. This visit, at the beginning of November was our first time back inside the restaurant since the pandemic began. During the time when they were doing take-out only, we would order ahead, park the car directly across the street, pick up the noodles, and greedily eat them right in the car. This is the sort of thing you want to eat as fresh as possible once it comes out of the kitchen.

Gene’s is not the only place in Greater Boston that serves this kind of noodle, but they’re the best, hands down. I have read that Xi’an Fine Foods from New York City is thinking about expanding into the Boston area, which might give Gene a run for his money, but for now he owns this. He also has other great stuff, the least of which is the aformentioned flatbread. I have had a couple of the soups – one with noodles and one with dumplings, both redolent with hot pepper. My wife likes the cold rice noodles that they only have on Saturdays.

The garlic on your breath lasts for a good two days afterward. Good for whatever ails you.