Soup’s On: Uncle Zhou’s Spicy Beef Knife-Shaved Noodle Soup
I would like to take partial credit for spurring the brodo trend (of one, currently). I’ve long been outraged by what I call office ladies, others call basic, and their obsession with fat-free yogurt. If one were watching calorie intake and in need of a snack, broth seems so much more sensible and satisfying to me than cracking into a disgusting container of Chobani. (Based on Facebook feedback, I was alone in this, it turns out, and everyone apparently loves the flavor of fat-free dairy and it has nothing to do with weight-watching and I’m horrible and judgmental.)
Anyway, my new winter project is to start eating more soup. This is harder than it seems because soup often sounds like the least interesting thing on a menu to me. Pancita when there are tacos? Tom yum instead of crispy pork with chile and basil? It is practical, though, in my neighborhood where there’s tons of exploring to do and a dearth of dining companions. Soup’s a warming meal for one. I’m going to embrace it–and maybe it will love me back.
Yes, yes, Uncle Zhou is all about the big tray of chicken. I also had a brief Thanksgiving fantasy of ordering the $225 Four Treasures a.k.a. the Chinese turducken (quail in a squab in a chicken in a duck). You won’t suffer too greatly if you simply order the spicy beef knife-shaved noodle soup with fat, irregular squiggles of dough cut by hand rather than twisted and pulled into strands. The chile oil-enhanced broth is light and doesn’t detract from the star, which is the slick and chewy (dare me to say toothsome?) starch. The thin slices of stewed beef are more of a hearty condiment, floating along with a handful of chopped cilantro.
After burning your tongue, the soup may also sober you up pretty nicely if you’re the sort who thinks day drinking and shopping at Target is a good idea (it’s kind of not).
If you’d like, also pick a cold dish from counter like these frilly strips of tripe. Unlike Sichuan preparations, the Henan approach retains the chile heat while going easier on the oil and eschews the metallic peppercorn zing altogether.
The Mandarin-speaking couple seated next to me peppered their conversation with English phrases like “Jackson Heights,” “chicken with broccoli,” and “shrimp fried rice.” Someone, somewhere was being mocked. That will not be you slurping your noodle soup.
Uncle Zhou * 83-29 Broadway, Elmhurst, NY