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Found 11 results

  1. I've been meaning to try 101 Noodle Express for a while, since it specializes in some of my favorites items in Chinese cuisine - noodles and dumplings. I had passed it over in favor of trying other places because the flagship item, the Shangdong-style beef roll, isn't my favorite. BIG MISTAKE. Turns out I didn't like them as much at other places simply because they weren't as good. Here, they are the highest expression of the snack, consistent and omnipresent at every table for a reason. The crepe-like bing is thin, flaky, and rich, but not oily. The beef is high-quality and sliced uniformly thin. There is just enough cilantro, scallions, and salty-sweet bean sauce to bring balanced flavors and textures. In case you aren't familiar with the beef roll (I think A&J recently put a version on the menu, but I never tasted it there), here's a nice description. The balance and uniform thinness of the layers, as well as tight wrapping, is key. We ate most of our roll at lunch and promptly ordered another to go (they travel really well!). We also got some dan dan noodles, which had a tiny kick but weren't particularly spicy (which we were expecting, since this is decidedly not a Szechuan place) and the hand-torn noodles were pleasingly chewy. We didn't have room for dumplings, but the many plates of pan-fried dumplings we saw scattered about the room were plump and had golden, crunchy-looking bottoms. We were at the Alhambra location, which is a casual strip-mall spot serving budget-friendly, simple, snacky food until late night (1 AM). They have a few other locations in Arcadia, Culver City, and Irvine. I learned one thing about their operations from their website that I find very promising for visiting other locations: 101 Noodle Express boasts a central, factory-like kitchen to secure quality control of its franchises.
  2. Happy to report that Pho Binh's location in the Heights offers "The Original" banh mi (off menu, but advertised on signs around the restaurant & on the cash register), which is essentially a cold-cut and paté sandwich. Grabbed one the other day for lunch. You're going to have a hard time finding a better way of spending $5.50 for lunch elsewhere in the city. Fantastic on its own, the flavors popped that much more with an easy shake of fish sauce and a thin line of Sriracha. I can also vouch for the lemongrass beef banh mi and the pork/spring roll bun. I am slightly embarrassed that I have yet to try the pho, especially considering the possibility of the roasted bone marrow add-on. Soon...soon.
  3. Homemade Ramen Noodles by Sho Spaeth on seriouseats.com.
  4. Sunday night we went with my SIL to Rolls n Rice. She likes getting sushi here because you can get soy wrappers and she isn't a seaweed fan. The sushi isn't in competition for best of the DMV, but it is affordable and they have a nice selection of bento, normal sushi (very close to like quick made conveyor sushi in Tokyo, I am sure they use a machine to make the nigiri rice and they do it for speed, not for quality of the sushi), noodles, soup, etc. It is a fast causal order at the counter place. We have been before and the people who work there are very nice. They are really fast at making sushi. Once you order you get a number, they bring you salad, some dishes also get miso soup. I got a combo bento box with 3 pieces of nigiri, 4 pcs California roll, beef bulgogi, rice, 2 tempura shrimp and some tempura vegetables. It was really too much food, but I managed to eat it all. I should have saved the sushi for lunch today, as Matt overate his sushi and said we should have packed up a few pieces. The tempura was just as expected. The bulgogi was saucy, but good. This is definitely like fast-casual Japanese food, but it's affordable and a nice quick stop for dinner. We like going here, we think it's fun and we can swap things from each person's order to try.
  5. I was on a trip to NYC with 100+ high schoolers this past weekend. Since we had a huge group and were spending our trip money on Lincoln Center and Broadway shows, this was not a trip for dining experiences. However, we were on our own for an hour for a meal in the Times Square vicinity pre-show, and I looked up quick eats and found Xi'an Famous Foods, where I went with several other of the adults on the trip (menu). There are multiple other locations besides the one we went to. It's a tiny place with very little seating, but they strongly suggest eating in because the noodles won't keep well: "Food tastes best when fresh from the kitchen. When hot noodles cool down, they get bloated, mushy, and oily. If you must take your noodles to go, please at least try the noodles in the store or right out of the to-go containers when it's handed to you, so you can get the best possible Xi'an Famous Foods experience." We got there right at noon and were able to get a few seats. I wasn't sure what to order, so I pulled up this list of recommendations from thrilllist. The hand-pulled noodles were terrific. I had Pork "Zha-Jiang" Hand-Pulled Noodles, and the man behind the counter asked if I wanted them spicy or not (maybe because I'm white, as a nonwhite companion was not asked that, but maybe because he heard me saying that I wasn't going to order the noodles that were specifically listed as spicy, which this wasn't.) I said not too spicy, and that's how he seasoned it - hotter than I usually order, as I stick to mild normally, but not fiery. The noodles were a great texture, and the sauce was absolutely delicious, with bits of ground pork throughout, and slivers of cucumber (which were a nice cooling contrast), chives, and celery. One of the other folks in our party had the Spicy Cumin Lamb Hand-Ripped Noodles, and said it was one of the top 10 noodle dishes he's had. Another person had rice cake with honey and loved it - sticky rice with dates and (I think) sweet beans, wrapped in bamboo (or lotus?) leaves, drizzled with honey, but not outrageously sweet, he said.
  6. Thanks, I'll keep that place in mind. My brother says we're not eating anything but Chinese in L.A., and he picked Din Tai Fung for lunch.
  7. Chef Dennis Friedman is opening a fast-casual concept called Newton's Noodles later this month. Lots of better writing than mine: - the Post - Eater - PoPVille has the official presser - WBJ has the business concept After making private sacrifices that I shall not reveal*, I managed to get an invite to the soft opening. I never get to feel fancy, so this is BIG for me. This is their press event, and Chef said pictures and cameras are no big deal. (Nobody will notice me and my camera in the corner.) Cheers! * - mostly, we eat at Newton's Table a lot. We might have made doe-eyed sad faces.
  8. Fishinnards

    Thai Noodles 101

    More than you wanted to know about Thai noodle dishes (ก๋วยเตี๋ยว). Thai noodle dishes are of Chinese origin and are relatively recent additions to the Thai culinary universe. Traditionally, Thai people prepared and ate food at home. When large groups of Chinese laborers arrived, they brought their own cuisine and street vendors who sold prepared food for the mostly Chinese clientele. This happened throughout Southeast Asia, and “street food” owes much to Chinese migration. The Chinese brought new cooking techniques to Thailand, which were quickly incorporated into Thai cuisine. These include stir-frying and deep frying. In Thai, the word for stir-fry is Pad (or Phat ผัด, pronounced closer to the name Pat but with a long a, rather than the word pad as in “notepad”). Thai dishes with the name Pad (Phat) in them are of Chinese origin, even Pad Thai. One of the Thai words for rice noodle, the kind of rice noodle used in Pad dishes (not all Pad dishes are noodle dishes, most are not) is Kuaitdiow or Guai-tiaw or Gu-tiaw (ก๋วยเตี๋ยว) a word of Chinese origin. There are several types of rice noodles distinguished by size, i.e. Guai-tiaw sen lek is small cut, Guai-tiaw sen yai is wide cut. Thai people make another type of rice noodle that has a much longer history in Thai cuisine. These are thin round strands of fresh rice noodle usually folded into small nests. Confusingly, the Thai name for this noodle in Kanom Cheen (ขนมจิ้ม). Kanom means snack or sweet, and Cheen (sometimes written jin) means Chinese, so the Thai name for these noodles translates to Chinese snack. These are usually served with curries, especially Nam Ya, a fish curry, and green curry (gaeng kiew wan). Confused? Ok, back to Guai-tiaw. The four most popular Guai-tiaw dishes in American Thai restaurants are Guai-tiaw Pad Thai, Guai-tiaw Pad See Ew, Guai-tiaw Lad Na (also transliterated Rad Na, or Lard Na or Rat Na, all are pronounced the same) and Guai-tiaw Pad kee Mao. As you have probably figured, most Thai menus drop the Guai-tiaw as it is difficult to pronounce and transliterate. In the cases of Pad Thai, Pad See Ew and Lard Na, with the Guai-tiaw dropped, noodles are still implied. This is not necessarily the case for Pad Kee Mao, which can be prepared without noodles. Lets go ahead and break down each of these. Guai-tiaw Pad See Ew, Guai-tiaw (rice noodles, in this case wide rice noodles, Sen Yai) Pad (stir fry) See Ew (soy sauce). That’s right. Noodles stir-fried with soy sauce, definitely a dish of Chinese origin. Ingredients are oil or lard, garlic (but no ginger, Thai cooks do not use ginger in the same way Chinese cooks do), sliced meat, egg, Chinese broccoli or similar green leafy vegetable, and a seasoning combination of any or all of the following; dark soy sauce (a must for this dish, See Ew), regular soy sauce or golden mountain sauce (a kind of Thai version of Soy sauce/maggi sauce), oyster sauce, sugar, sweet dark soy sauce, fish sauce, MSG, and white pepper. You could just use dark sweet soy (aka kecap manis in Indonesian) or a combination of some of the above listed ingredients. Each cook has her own formula, but obviously some form of soy sauce is a must in this dish. Here is a video of a nice young Thai lady teaching you how to make it. Guai-tiaw Lad Na. I actually have no idea what Lad Na (Rat Na, Lard Na, Lat Na) means. This dish is also super Chinese. It is very similar to Pad See Ew but is distinguished by a “gravy” or sauce, and the noodles are browned in a dry hot wok. Ingredients are almost the same as Pad see ew, but no egg, and the sauce is thickened by a slurry of starch at the end, usually tapioca starch, but corn starch or potato starch could also be used. This is the only Thai-Chinese dish I can think of that uses this thickening technique, a technique used in many (most?) Chinese stir-fries. So, noodles (again Guai-tiaw Sen Yai or fresh wide rice noodles) are browned in scorching hot wok, usually without oil, till they darken at the edges, and are then set aside. This is the “hard” part. You need very fresh noodles and a very well seasoned very hot wok or you get a sticky burnt mess. Then lots of garlic is stir fried with sliced meat. Greens are added, usually Chinese broccoli. This dish uses similar seasonings as in Pad See Ew above, but this time dow jiow (fermented soy beans, aka Chinese miso) could also be added. Some stock or water is added and then thickened with starch. The result is poured over the waiting browned noodles. Now my favorite, Guai-tiaw Pad kee Mao. Guai-tiaw (again Sen Yai, wide fresh rice noodles) Pad (stir fry) Kee Mao (a drunk person is called a Kee Mao, kinda sort of translates to shit (kee) faced (mao), but Kee Mao is not a state of being, but a type of a person, a drunkard, or lush) thus this is noodle stir-fry for a drunk person. The menu at Po Siam used to say “noodles of the drunks”. I always liked that. As I am a Kee Mao, I enjoy Guai-tiaw Pad kee Mao very much. As this a dish for drunks (which can also be made without noodles and served with rice) anything goes as far as what vegetables and stuff that can go into it. The way I like it is pretty much Pad Grapao (holy basil stir fry) with noodles and cherry tomatoes, but finding it like this in the States is fairly impossible because holy basil does not grow that well all year long (only in the summer) and is highly perishable. In this dish, again garlic is used, but also lots and lots of Prik kee Nu Chilies (Prik=pepper or chili, kee= shit, Nu=mouse, so mouse poop peppers). I like to use about 20 of these hot little bastards, if it’s too hot to eat it’s perfect. Some cooks grind the garlic and chilies to a paste in a mortar and pestle, and may even add some fermented shrimp paste (kapi, shrimp miso). This resulting paste is fried in hot oil and some meat is added (either sliced or coarsely ground, I prefer the latter). Almost any vegetable is fair game it seams, bean sprouts, baby corn, whatever, who cares, they’re drunk, bell pepper, onion, I hate that shit, bell pepper sucks in Thai food, leave that shit out, and no onion either, but sliced shallots are ok. My vegetable of choice is holy basil, a big ass handful. Most Thai restaurants only throw in a few leaves cause their cheap bastards and your drunk and farang and it’s the wrong kind of basil anyway. It’s usually Bai Horopa (Bai= leaf, horopa = “Thai Basil”) which is ok, but really not the same at all. I like cherry tomatoes in this. In general, central Thais (Bangkok area) do not like tomato, especially cooked tomato. However, northern Thais (Lanna) use it quite a bit cooked, also northeastern Thais (Issan) like to roast tomatoes for one of many types of dipping sauces called jeaw. Seasoning is also kinda whatever, a combination of salty condiments as in the dishes above. Sometimes just fish sauce and palm sugar will do the trick, but oyster sauce is very trendy nowadays. I’ve heard of some cooks adding whiskey, but remember, it is the diner who is drunk, not the noodles. Guai-tiaw Pad Thai, literally stir fried noodles Thai style. The word “Thai” is a qualifier that indicates that this is not a Chinese style Pad (Phat). My understanding is that this dish was invented (by a contest) in the 1920s during a fit of Thai nationalism (i.e anti-Chinese sentiment). The flavor profile of this dish is very different from the above in that there is no soy sauce, oyster sauce, fermented bean paste or any other seasoning of Chinese origin. The very Thai sweet and sour seasoning is usually Tamarind, palm sugar, and fish sauce. The ingredients, however, are all Chinese, rice noodles (sen lek this time, thinner cut), dried radish, pressed tofu, chives etc. Leela of Shesimmers.com has way more info about this dish and I encourage you to read all five posts of her Pad Thai series. Condiments. In Thailand, noodle dishes are always served with condiments. The condiments come in what is call a Khrueng Puang (เครื่องพวง) or ring of spices. Usually this is four or five containers with little spoons arranged in a metal holder. Ask for it if you don’t see it on the table. Each container had a different condiment, usually white sugar, crushed hot pepper (prik pon, made from dried prik ee nu), fresh green sliced chilies in vinegar (prik chee fah, milder bigger chilies or finger hots), fish sauce or fish sauce with chilies, and crushed roasted peanuts. Each diner is expected to season his or her own noodle dish to their liking. Here is some quick advice. Chilies in vinegar is a must for Pad See Ew and Lard Na, crushed dried chili (prik pon) is a must for Pad Thai (along with a squeeze of lime). Everything else is up to you. Thai noodle dishes are not part of a regular Thai meal. They are some of the few Thai dishes that are meant to be eaten alone. They are considered one-dish meals. They are usually eaten for breakfast or lunch and are not usually shared. Consider them as we do sandwiches. Now, do you judge an fine Italian restaurant by its subs? Do you order a sandwich as part of your multi-course meal? Generally no, but that is what you are doing when you order your Thai noodle dish along with your curry and soup and other dishes. Thai noodles are specialty foods made by vendors with special equipment who usually specialize in only one or two dishes (like a deli or pizza parlor). Thai restaurants in Thailand (that don’t cater to tourists) don’t usually have Pad Thai or other noodle dishes, because you buy those from street vendor specialists. A regular Thai meal however, is always multiple dishes, never in courses, but all at once and shared “family style”. It is called ahan kap khao, or just kap khao. Ahan means “food”, kap is “with” and khao is “rice”. Variety and contrast is very important to the Thai diner. There must be an array of flavors as well as textures and different dishes balance one another. But noodles have a place outside this type of meal and are dishes unto themselves. By all means eat Thai food however you like, eat noodles with your other dishes if you want. I hope I have added some context and understanding that will add to your enjoyment of Thai noodle dishes. BTW there are many many more delightful Thai noodle dishes and more being invented everyday. Feel free to ask me questions, argue or disagree. I haven't even mentioned boat noodles.
  9. Continuing in my attempt to eat at most Thai restaurants in the southern half of the county, I picked up lunch today from Bangkok Noodle, which is located at the intersection of Commerce & Backlick. I got Tom yum goong ($4.95), larb gai ($6.95) & sukiyaki noodle soup-chicken, beef, pork, cellophane noodles, napa cabbage, Chinese celery, egg, watercress, & sesame seeds in spicy red bean curd soup ($9.95) for Tom. The food was excellent, great blend of hot/sour/salty/sweet for my tom yum (I've been eating this soup several times/wk lately) & the larb had a perfect amount of heat (marked on the menu as 1 rooster-American hot). It looks like they specialize in Thai noodle soups-next time, I want to try the Paradise soup ($14.95)-cellophane noodles w/ seafood, ground pork, fish balls, bean sprouts, crushed peanuts, topped w/ crispy bacon & boiled egg in a hot & sour broth-this one is 3 roosters-Thai hot. It's a lovely space, looks like a beach house w/ blue, green, & tan lapped siding & a colorful mural of photos. Definitely a contender for a Springfield $20 Tuesday (happy hour specials from 4-7), I'll be going back to sample more menu items.
  10. First time here since they reconfigured the restaurant half of the store from take-out counter into a modern sit-down space. The Sautéed Chicken with Asian Pumpkin and Basil ($13) was very satisfying. They still do delivery and take-out, and I'll definitely be putting them high on my list of options the next time I'm looking for something quick.
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