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Posts tagged ‘ny noodletown’

Eaten, Barely Blogged: Oldies, a Goodie


ny noodletown crabs

Great NY Noodletown I know this old-timer has detractors, but I’m still a fan and it’s not all driven by nostalgia (or even poor late-night decision-making–I’m quite capable of that at 8:30pm on weeknight). Get a group and over-order hacked-up duck, glazed roast pork, a heaping pile of pea shoots, crispy pan-fried noodles topped with squid and scallops, and a few lightly battered soft-shell crabs sprinkled with what I swear are jalapeños (my personal nostalgia since this was the first place I ever had crabs, shells and all, which is hard to believe in the Northeast in 2015). Manhattan’s Chinatown can be touristy and a little down at its heels and maybe each dish isn’t exemplary of its form, but the whole spread taken together with the right company–plus a few drinks–can be a can be a reminder that this part of the city still has charm. Here is every time I’ve mentioned Noodletown over the years, though definitely not every time I’ve eaten there.

tangra masala trio

Tangra Masala Remember when everyone was excited about Indian Chinese food even though a lot of it is fried and sometimes involves ketchup? The smaller, original, alcohol-free location across Queens Boulevard from Target is still a decent pit stop for paneer-stuffed wontons with a minty vinegar dip, lollipop chicken with a thousand island-esque chile sauce, and bright orange chow mein that tastes like Doritos (seriously).

lui's panang curry

Lui’s Thai Food is not the worst idea if you’re looking for a BYOB spot in the East Village on a Saturday night (and possibly trying to escape a group dinner after a memorial at HiFi because group dinners are stressful 90% of the time even though I was just singing the praises of commandeering a round table at Noodletown). I didn’t have the highest hopes and was pleasantly surprised. No, it’s not Queens Thai. It’s not Zabb Elee either. But the crispy basil duck and shrimp panang curry were right on–and intentional–dishes are dishes, none of this pick a protein nonsense. There was a tight selection of entrees to choose from like the above medium-spiced panang curry thickened with ground shrimp and featuring plump fried shrimp and garnished with a hard-boiled egg. You can be an NYU kid with a bottle of Woodbridge Chardonnay and it’s fine or pop around the corner to Urban Wines for something a little nicer. (If it’s Friday or Saturday night, my friend Lindsay is likely working–ask for a recommendation like the off-dry Mosel Riesling we had from a producer whose name I’ve already forgotten.)

Great New York Noodletown

twoshovel New York Noodletown, or Great New York Noodletown as they’ve been calling themselves for some time, has always been a Chinatown standby and not just for late night. I haven’t been drunk in the vicinity of lower Manhattan in years. Murmurs of its decline have come and gone for ages.

Me, I’ve never had a problem with the food, though I never stray far from roast pork wonton soup, roasted meats with rice or salt and pepper soft shell crabs (though in a recent Travel & Leisure article that gathers a bunch of chefs to eat at Noodletown and discuss late night eats, David Chang declares the ginger scallion noodles his favorite—maybe I should branch out?) That’s it. And brusqueness in this genre of eatery doesn’t bother me.

I recently went straight after work before seeing The Box on opening night for reasons I can’t yet determine, not so much that the movie was weird/slow/unsatisfying but because I rarely even see movies, let alone on opening nights. Like I said, I wouldn’t call efficiency and lack of smiling brusqueness, and the burgundy-vested waiters hear everything. They’re on it. We were speculating to ourselves not loudly whether we should order the soft shell crab and were cut off by a waiter walking by, “No soft shell crab!” Ok, roast duck it was.

New york noodletown roast pork wonton soup

I forgot to take a photo of the duck, which proves how tastiness of the meat and crispiness of the skin. Or maybe I was just starving. I have to admit, though, that my soup was a little troubled. The broth was hot, maybe a little less complex and rich as ones I’ve had there before, but clearly the noodles and pork had just been sitting out as they were coldish, not even quite room temperature. The noodles were still springy and the pork had a nice charred flavor but warm would be better.

The wontons? Maybe I’ve said this before and I still can’t determine where the flavor is coming from since they look simply like shrimp encased in dough, no herbs, but they taste like marijuana. Just subtly and I’m no stoner but I swear they are like pot dumplings, if such a think existed. I’ve never heard anyone else ever say that so maybe it’s how my tongue processes a certain taste, in a soapy cilantro manner.

Previously on New York Noodletown

Great New York Noodletown * 28 Bowery St., New York, NY

New York Noodle Town


I don’t feel as if I have much to say about Noodle Town since I’ve gone on about it many times before in other places. I first discovered it on Chinese New Year, which I didn’t even realize was Chinese New Year until I got down there and was overwhelmed by the crowds. But I’m not sure that the crowds were indicative of the holiday since I’ve never seen the place empty. Even at 3 am (it stays open til 4 am, which can be a godsend on some nights) the tables are filled, which is saying something.

You may have to share a round table, which is really hit or miss. Sometimes it’s a scowling, lone, elderly Asian woman, sometimes it’s a middle aged couple who read about Noodletown in Zagat or if you’re really lucky you’ll get obnoxious college-kid foodies who think they know all the best items on the menu and feel the need to share their knowledge with the Dutch folks on your other side who’ll end up befriending each other and passing food over you the entire meal. But most likely, you’ll just get some non-offensive people who’d like to enjoy their soup in peace just as much as you would.

I’ll admit that my breadth of knowledge concerning the menu is small since I order the same items almost every time. Remember soup and roasted meat and you’ll never go wrong. I get the roast pork wonton noodle soup and it hasn’t disappointed yet. It’s full pork slices, substantial wontons, bulging with two shrimp each, thin noodles, and broccoli (last time it was gai lan, Chinese broccoli, which was an even bigger treat). I’ve been to places where the soup is like water. This sad state won’t occur here–even the broth is packed with flavor. The soup is a meal in itself (I
never realized how large the portion was til I got an order to go and it filled up my bowl two and a half times), but try and save room for some roast duck. You can get an order on rice for $3.25 that won’t bust your gut. Of course, larger sizes are available if you’re in the mood. The salt-baked soft-shell crab is also a winner. They’re not overly greasy, and the salt is off-set by a sprinkling of sliced chili peppers that I swear are jalapenos, even though I know those are not Chinese and my dining companion refuses to believe me.

A lot of Asian food aficionados say you’re only supposed to order off the special menus. Noodletown has one with “fancier” things like meats served with snow pea shoots, sandy pot casseroles and things made duck’s feet, but I’ve always stuck with the basics. I know, you don’t want to be all fuddy duddy and order things like chow mein or egg rolls at a place with amazing regional food, but nothing’s wrong with their regular menu, which you’ll find displayed under glass right at your table for easy viewing. It’s not that I don’t want to try the frog congee, God knows I do, but my stomach is only so big. Maybe I’ll get a batch to go next time. Roast duck at 3 am and congee the morning after sounds like a good plan. Rice porridge is for breakfast, after all. (10/27/00)

Soft shell season—we had to go. Actually, I don’t understand the season because I swear they always have soft shell crabs on the menu at Noodletown. Maybe its just the difference between fresh and frozen? I love that salt and pepper preparation on fried seafood. It’s light and barely battered, which doesn’t induce the usual gut wrenching trauma I get from things like fish and chips. Oh, and the jalapeno slivers also are a nice spicy contrast. But I am a little baffled about the use of jalapeos in Chinese food, I don’t see it in other dishes. Is this traditional? Even Sichuan food gets its heat from peppercorns, not chiles. I will have to look into the Cantonese connection. (5/15/05)

Yay, Noodletown. It’s an oldie but a goodie that I haven’t paid a visit to in probably a year. I didn’t stray from my routine and had roast pork wonton noodle soup and shared a plate of roast duck on rice. We even got our own table during prime Saturday dining time after only waiting a few minutes. That doesn’t happen with any regularity. All the right planets must’ve been in alignment. (3/25/06)

NewYork Noodle Town * 28½ Bowery, New York, NY