In the 20 plus years that I’ve been living in Queens the strip of Austin Street that runs through Forest Hills has never been known as a hotbed of authentic Asian cuisine. In the past few years though, that’s been gradually changing. First came Violet’s Bake Shoppe, which brought top-notch bánh mì to the area and then Pink Forest Cafe, a Chinese-run coffee shop with a sideline in jian bing. The latest entrant, Xin Taste Lan Zhou Hand Pull Noodle opened a few weeks ago, just as winter was beginning to sink its icy claws into New York City.
On first visit I tried the house special knife shaved noodles, which proved disappointing as the broth was too salty and not quite piping hot, but they’d been open only six days.Today I ventured out into the cold to give Xin Taste a second taste, and I am glad I did.
One of the first things I noticed when I opened the door was a blast of five spice and star anise, a good omen indeed. On my first foray I noticed that the bowls of hand-pulled noodles on other tables were all enshrouded in clouds of steam. So I opted for hand-pulled beef noodles ($8.95). In less than five minutes a lovely bowl of niu rou la mian was placed before me. After the requisite photo shoot and doctoring up with black vinegar and chili oil I dug in.
The Chinese zodiac placemat was straight out of the strip mall Chinese spots of my youth, but the noodles and broth certainly weren’t. The combination of the stewed beef shin, noodles, broth and veggies proved to be good medicine indeed. Incidentally the place’s Chinese name Xin Wei means rich taste. Pretty apt considering that they make the richest tasting hand pulled noodle soup in Forest Hills.
Xin Taste Lan Zhou Hand Pull Noodle 72-38 Austin St., Forest Hills, (718) 520-5199