NOTE TO BLOG VISITORS - I am not currently doing noodle restaurant visit reports, but focusing on diving more deeply into noodle research, so this blog will be updated less frequently. For the latest Asian noodle news, and features from external sources, follow
Thursday, May 28, 2015
After my foray into the wilds of the East Bay for some spicy Guilin cowmeat noodles (see above), I resumed my tour of Tenderloin Southeast Asian noodle delights with another visit to Kyu3 Noodle & BBQ. To make sure I wasn't in a rice noodle rut, I went for the egg noodle-friendly Khao Soi, confident of getting a strong version, based on my previous noodle experiences at Kyu3. I was not disappointed.
The curry broth in my Khao Soi came deep in flavor and nicely balanced, lacking the cloying coconutty sweetness of some versions. Its default spiciness, truth be told, barely registered on the Scoville scale, but server Tammy made a point of placing a jar of the house-made chili sauce next to usual condiment rack, and I got to assume the chefly duty of sexing up the soup myself. Discretion, they have learned, is the greater part of avoiding bad Yelp reviews, apparently.
While I was slurping my noodles, a young couple at the next table was feasting on some of the chef's crossover fare, including the delicious-looking squid ink fried ice. I made a vow to myself that on my next visit I would eschew the noodles (pun, get it?) and go for the squid ink fried rice and perhaps some takoyaki kushi for additional protein.
And I swear on a stack of Lucky Peach Magazines that I'll never write "oodles of noodles" again.
Where slurped: Kyu3 Noodle & BBQ, 337 Jones St., San Francisco Uptown Tenderloin
Monday, May 25, 2015
I've dreamt of Guilin Spicy Horsemeat Noodles since I first viewed the 1998 noodle-forward film My Rice Noodle Shop (Guilin Rong Ji). There has been some positive regulatory movement towards acceptance of horse flesh as food in the US, but I doubt that the societal barriers to permitting the serving of such a delicacy in the Bay Area will be overcome in my lifetime. I've been resigned to hoping that a similar dish featuring the meat of a beast that moos instead of whinnying, at the very least, would come along.
Since my last visit, Classic Guilin Rice Noodles, the restaurant that may be Oakland's main reason for existence, has expanded its menu, giving me sufficient reason for making a rare trek across the Bay. Part of the impetus for the trip was a new section on the restaurant's menu, "Special Beef Rice Noodle Series" which includes a dish designated as "Spicy Beef Noodle Soup." This section of the menu, I surmised, would include noodles in soup, as opposed to the restaurant's "Classic" series of dry noodles with broth on the side.
Whether by intuition or wild-ass guess, I was right. My large bowl of Spicy Beef Noodle Soup (which can be ordered "Hot" or "Not Hot," go figure) came with a distinct resemblance to the bowls served in Guilin at restaurants like the one owned by the grandfather of the movie's Rong Rong: slices of
The current menu for CGRN includes a few more irresistible attractions, including another snail-based soup, "Beef Brisket Snails Noodles" featuring hand-cut wheat noodles, and a "Guanxi Style" Beef/Pork Rice Noodle Soup" featuring wide noodles.
I'll be back
Where slurped: Classic Guilin Rice Noodles, 261A 10th St., Oakland Chinatown.
Thursday, May 14, 2015
The good news is that Lanxang Kingdom serves an addictive Khao Poun. The bad news is that I may not see it again for a month of Sundays. Or Thursdays.
As you may recall from an earlier post, Lanxang Kingdom is a once a week restaurant (pop-up is too flimsy a descriptor) that materializes every Thursday at Turtle Tower (that restaurant's regular day off). In addition to a fixed menu, they rotate other dishes (including soups) as "weekly specials." That's fine for me, as it increases the variety of delights I get to explore, but it makes repeatability of my experiences problematic. Can one step in the same river twice?
Khao Poun was on this week's list of specialties for Lanxang Kingdom, and wild horses (or elephants) couldn't keep me away. It was my third experience with the dish per se, the other two being at Maneelap Srimongkoun and at the Isan Thai restaurant Tycoon Thai, where it took on the generic alias "Kanom Jeen." I've also had a considerable number of close (and not-so-close) cognates, such as Thai Khao Soi, Burmese Oh No Kau Swe and even similar-seeming Penang Curry Laksa.
With my noodles I ordered another special, Lao-style mango with sticky rice. The purplish rice was more savory than other versions I've had, and the only sweetness seemed to come from the coconut cream dressing which came on the side to pour over the rice and mango. I usually eschew dessert and sweets in general, but I have a soft spot for mango with sticky rice, and the Lao version at Lanxang Kingdom immediaately became my favorite.
Mii Katii on their opening Thursday; this is a noodle blog after all. But I've been there four times all told, and have been pleased with the the non-noodle dishes as much as with the noodle dishes from their far-ranging menu. You may not be ready for crickets, larva or red ant eggs, but you'll find all your familiar Lao favorites there as well, including Lao sausage, rice ball salad and. of course, larb -- plus many flavorful new foods you have yet to discover. Once a week, at least, you'll find the best in Lao food at host Turtle Tower's digs, without having to trek to The Excelsior, Oceanview or the wilds of East Oakland, or having to parse a Lao/Thai menu to figure out which cuisine is which.
Me, I'm still waiting for an appearance of the frog sausage that made an appearance on Lanxang Kingdom's first draft menu.
Where slurped: Lanxang Kingdom at Turtle Tower, 645 Larkin St., San Francisco
Saturday, May 9, 2015
After my recent round of complex Southeast Asian rice noodle soups with their exotic botanicals that spoke pleasant but unfamiliar languages to my palate, I started pining for more familiar fare with robust wheat noodles and ingredients I am already on a first-name basis with. What could be better, I thought, than to check out the beef noodle soup at the neglected (by me) Taste of Formosa on outer Clement St., especially since I could also try their "Taiwanese Potstickers." Potstickers were chosen as the "Dish of The Month" on chowhound.com, which got me hankering hopefully for some open-ended "Zhonghua Road" style potstickers, which I became enamored of at a Taiwanese fast-food chain in Shanghai. Were they awaiting me at Taste of Formosa?
These two brother garnishes, unfortunately, may have been the best feature of the soup. The broth was fine, if not exciting: beefy, faintly spicy and vaguely aromatic but a little on the lukewarm side. The braised beef (brisket?) was mushy, and appeared to have given its all to the broth. Worst of all were the noodles, which were unconscionably soft; this may have been partly due to a unusually hectic demand on the kitchen, but to me there is no excuse for overcooking noodles.
Despite the beef noodle failure, I found the place very inviting, with many things to explore on the menu for a Taiwanese food novice like me. I'll have to get back to try the xian doujiang, a dish which I do know well and hanker for, and which looks good in the photos on Yelp that I have seen. They also have stinky tofu on the menu (another gimme). And I'll gladly reprise the potstickers.
Where slurped: Taste of Formosa, 2428 Clement St. (25th/26th) San Francisco