Dish: House Noodle Soup
Place: Gourmet Noodle Bowl, International District, Seattle
In the bowl: Hand-made, shaved wheat noodles in chicken broth with pork belly, chives, seaweed, green onions, and a fried egg.
Supporting cast: It’s all in the bowl.
What to do: Eat solids with chopsticks, and liquid with spoon. It’s that simple.
Noodling around: Less than satisfied with my first two noodle dishes and determined to celebrate Chinese New Year for the full length of its typical two-week period, I snuck in one last noodle expedition. Gourmet Noodle Bowl, formerly Cafe H.K., offers a large selection of Chinese noodle dishes, as well as a few Indonesian options.
I’m generally drawn to the “House” soup at any Asian restaurant, though at Gourmet Noodle Bowl, you’ll need to distinguish between the “House Noodle Soup” and the “House Special Noodle Soup.” (Emphasis added.) The “House Noodle Soup” is pictured on a separate menu, with its fried egg and pork belly tempting me terribly.
The broth was good–relatively simple and certainly comforting. The soup as a whole reminded me of some typical udon preparations I’ve had in Japan and at home. I’d call it “sappari” (plain and refreshing), save for the decadent fried egg and generous pork belly pieces. Add the noodles, and this is actually a filling dish, though it makes me realize that I much prefer shaved noodles fried than in soup, where I would rather enjoy the slurpability of longer, thinner noodles.
If still hungry: I was attracted by both the name and contents of the “Assorted Foodstuff” side dish ($7.95), which I learned is a cold plate of cucumber, bamboo shoots, egg, beef, bean curd, and sliced pork. But keeping with the pork belly theme, and per my server’s suggestion, I had the Taiwanese pork bun ($2.95). This held a nice piece of pork belly (with a perfect balance of fat and meat), and the pickled mustard greens, cilantro, and sweet peanut sauce made this a wonderful side dish.
Be aware/beware: Come at night and you might be the only table not eating hot pot, which looks good with its choices of soup bases. But there are lots of promising noodles to be had here. My dining companion ordered “Shrimp Noodle Soup” ($8.50, N29 on the written menu and also known as “mi udang” on the picture menu). It’s one of the Indonesian dishes, with a bit of bite to it, but mellow enough that I’d recommend asking for extra spiciness. This noodle bowl comes with egg noodles by default (which, as mentioned above, I prefer over shaved noodles for soup) along with shredded dark chicken, boiled egg, shrimp, bean sprouts, and chives. There was a slight oceanic edge to the soup which was refreshing. Turns out it’s from the dried shrimp in the broth, which is always a good thing.
First published in Seattle Weekly’s Voracious on February 22, 2011.