Friday, December 21, 2007
Olive Tree Mail Bag #4: NYC Noodle Shops
In today's Olive Tree Mail Bag we tackle a request from Tanya, who asks what some of my favorite NYC noodle shops are. Great question! There are a few, each representing a different type of noodle soup from different countries.
We begin with my all time favorite: Wing Wong. I discovered this hidden gem of a restaurant while living in Chinatown. While my five roommates were frequenting the Excellent Dumpling House (which is actually terrible), I moved on over to the teeny tiny space next door, where sharing a table with strangers is totally worth it. Wing Wong makes Cantonese style wonton noodle soup, which I love eating on a frigid winter day. I like it topped with sliced roast pork, but my mother likes it with duck--both are really delicious, and a huge bowl will set you back less than 5 bucks. Even though it's right in the middle of the tourist hustle bustle (111 Lafayette Street, between Canal and Walker), you'll only find New Yorkers eating there, which is always a good sign.
My second favorite is the restaurant that I spoke about in the noodle soup blog, Rai Rai Ken. They serve Japanese ramen, a soup chock full of curly noodles, rich broth, meats and seafood (not to mention some veggies) topped with a bit of nori. This place is great, but VERY tiny, even smaller than Wing Wong. There are only about 8-10 seats in the whole place, which is just bar style seating surrounding the open kitchen. As much as I like the renowned Momofuku, everytime I see the 2 hour wait I turn around and head straight to Rai Rai Ken, which is just around the corner at 214 East 10th Street, between 2nd and 1st Ave. Even though seating is limited, seats seem to open up pretty quickly, especially since it's less well known. A big bowl of ramen and their excellent pan fried dumplings make for a plentiful meal. and will add up to only about 10 bucks.
My third favorite was a place called Bao Noodles, which I found a few years ago and now happens to be in my neighborhood. I remember having excellent bowls of Vietnamese pho there (soup made from beef stock, usually oxtail bones, served with flat glass noodles and thin sliced beef to cook in the broth.) Unfortunately, something has caused the pho to suffer in recent years, perhaps a change in the kitchen, or ownership. So, I am currently looking for a great simple, authentic bowl of pho. If you have any pho recommendations, please do share. If you'd like to check out Bao Noodles even though the pho is now sub par, it's on 2nd Ave in Murray Hill.
Well, that's about it for my regular weekly posting. My mother is flying in today from Spain, so posting will be sporadic, but hopefully rich with information. We plan on actually cooking together this year, and I plan on documenting all of it here. My kitchen barely has room for me, let alone two people, a camera and my lighting equipment, but we're going to give it a try. You'll get some of my favorite Spanish soups and stews that I only get to eat when mom makes them, along with what I hope will be a wonderful Christmas Eve seafood spread. So check back from time to time over the holidays for updates, and I hope everyone has a happy and food filled holiday season.