Address: 171 1st Avenue New York, NY 10003
After a 30 minute wait crushed against tourists, NYU students, and hip 20-somethings, we finally got two coveted seats at the bar. The entire restaurant is long and narrow, with a few tables to one side, and wooden stools on the other, facing either the bar section or the kitchen section in the back. Pretty convenient for catching the attention of the wait staff, and we ordered almost right after we sat down. Surrounded by the never-ending din of my fellow diners, we were pretty excited; we had heard such good things about the restaurant from friends, the atmosphere was as hip and funky as most of its customers, and we were in one of our favorite neighborhoods.
Anna: I ordered the chilled sesame noodles, after being told that the spicy noodles were extremely spicy (which my bland Russian tongue cannot handle), and they came with two friends!
After some bad experiences dissecting animals in biology class, seeing two dead eyes staring up at me wasn’t exactly appetizing. After picking these little buddies off and covering them up with a white napkin, CSI-style, I dug in and found that the food was good, but certainly not worth the hype. The noodles were actually pretty delicious - thin and fairly sticky, easily pickable by chopsticks even for an amateur, with the light tangy flavor of sesame blended through them. However, the dandelions served with them were too bitter for my taste, and didn’t mix well with the sesame. The menu described the dish as coming with fava beans, and I counted exactly three little ones at the very bottom of the bowl. Lovely. The prawns also had a mild flavor, and went better with the noodles than the dandelions did, but they didn’t taste much better than the shrimp my dad buys at costco in large refrigerated packs. Overall, it was a good experience and a nice night out with a friend, but a one-time deal for me - I’ll have to put this right underneath Magnolia Cupcakes in my list of overrated eateries in Manhattan.
Alla: I ordered Ginger Scallion Noodles with pickled shiitakes, cucumber, and cabbage. I previously didn’t know anything about the food there and figured everything must be as good as people say it is, so I decided to play eeny, meeny, miny, moe with the dinner menu.
Unfortunately, I was not satisfied with my plate at all! There was about a 15 -minute wait for the food to come, and although the service was good, the food was not exactly the best. The shiitakes tasted sweet, but nothing complimented them. The noodles did not taste like anything, and I felt like more brackish flavors would have made a great contribution to the dish. I speculate that there was an attempt to add some saltiness with the one sheet of roasted seaweed, yet that was not enough. I was not able to chew on my seaweed and had to leave the other half on the side of my bowl. I am guessing that it was simply me and my Jewish luck because the seaweed sheets that other people had seemed just fine.
I did not bear the blandness of the dish for long and soon added hot sauce. I am a hot sauce lover, so I am by all means biased when I say with hot sauce the dish tasted better. Overall, I was not a big fan of my dish. I ate everything, but did not seem to be satiated at the end. I am glad I tried eating here for the experience; however, there is certainly no guarantee that I will come back.