Torrey and the core team got the MSG150 rolling again today with a long wet walk to the far corner of the DLZ. Last month during a scouting mission we walked past the H.K. Cafe on 8th between Lane and Dearborn, so we were a bit surprised when we arrived and it was now the Gourmet Noodle Bowl. As we soon learned, it is the same owner, just a new name.
Luncher: EmmettLunch: House Special Noodle Soup - $6.95
This place had great service and great food! The restaurant was mostly empty when we arrived, the hostess greeted us warmly, and immediately served us hot tea. She patiently spent time with us, explaining the menu items, her favorite dishes, and telling us a bit about the ownership. She was particularly proud of her homemade noodles!
I ordered the House Special Noodle Soup with the home made noodles. It came in a large triangular dish, nicely spiced, with noodles, some green onion, sprouts, fish balls, sliced pork, and a couple of shrimp with the heads on! I wanted to play with the shrimp but realized I am actually 28 years old and that us 28 year olds shouldn't play 'shrimp war.' The soup was delicious, nicely seasoned. The noodles were chewy but good. The pork on top was fatty like bacon and very savory. I had a bite of Adam's duck and Geary's hot pot, both were quite good.
I liked this place a lot, and will definitely be back.
Luncher: GearyLunch: Spicy Beef in Hot Pot - $7.95
The Gourmet Noodle Bowl is in the base of a new building with upscale condos above and Made in Kitchen next door. Unlike many of the other noodle cafes in the ID, the GNB is going for a more upscale feel. That must be the "Gourmet" part. It has nice dark wood furniture and other fancy touches. There was only one other table eating when we arrived, a couple sharing a full hot pot lunch. The owner sat us and answered our questions about the name change.
The menu is just a simple paper jobbie but has lots to offer. This is not a place that has toned down it's offerings for American pallets (no Kung Pau or Genaral Tso to be seen). With help from the owner, we ordered one of the many interesting veggie starters and a soup for each of us. Having just gone back to Szechuan Noodle Bowl for the second time, I ordered the Spicy Beef in Hot Pot, thinking it might be a good comparison.
First, the veggie, Taiwanese Style Ung Choy, arrived. It was steamed and splashed with a light sauce of some kind. I'm not sure it was a vegetable I had ever eaten before. It was not unlike spinach stems and was delicious. The greens were crisp and the sauce tasted like an oyster sauce but was not overpowering. Yum!
My personal hot pot arrived and was indeed hot. It consisted of a large bowl of soup (or I thought it was large until I saw Emmett and Torrey's) suspended on a small stand over a Sterno flame, a bowl of rice, a puffed tofu ball with sauce, and a cookie. I'm not sure I understand the point of the flame in this dish. Our neighbors had all sorts of meats and veggies to cook in their large hot pot, but mine was a thick soup that appeared to have already been well cooked. All the fire did was keep the soup too hot to eat without a lot of blowing. That said, it was worth risking the third degree burns to get every bite of that amazing soup. Like the Szechuan Noodle Bowl, it had tender chunks of beef, but the broth and the whole soup experience was better. I didn't think it was possible. It was thick, like Hot and Sour soup, but had much more character with bits of cabbage and other unidentifiable vegetable matter. The soup was also chocked full of blood cubes (I assume of swine origin). Luckily, the blood cubes stay pretty much intact and can be eaten around as necessary. I was less affected by this delicacy than the first time I encountered it but I'm still not a big fan. I ate a few, but ended up leaving most behind. However, even with the blood, this is one of the best soups I have ever eaten. I'm a huge fan of the Gourmet Noodle Bowl.
Luncher: AdamLunch: Duck Noodle Soup - $7.95
The places on the north side of our DLZ keep suprising me. I thought Made in Kitchen was going to be fantastic, it wasn't. Szechuan Noodle Bowl garnered a 5-chopstick rating. S&FB was also a sleeper with excellent hoagies. With a name like Gourmet Noodle Bowl, I was expecting to get a small-to-medium bowl of soup (SMBS) but was surprised at the amount of food I was served.
I ordered the Duck Noodle Soup, and expected to get a bowl of soup with duck in it. What the server brought out was a bowl of Noodle Soup, and a big plate of chopped-up roast duck in a light and sweet sauce. The duck was done perfectly, and the Gourmet Noodle Bowl's homemade noodles were delicious. When given the choice between rice noodles, and homemade noodles... the choice was easy.
The service at Gourmet Noodle Bowl was impeccable. Our server was one of the owners and was very helpful in our selection of food... because we really had no idea what to order.
Good food. Good service. Nice atmosphere. Definitely coming back here.
Luncher: TorreyLunch: Braised Beef Noodle Soup - $7.50
I am a sucker for good service, and the service at this place was almost too good. I had the feeling the waitress (part owner) knew she was going to be rated and was on her best behavior. The waitress was plugging her homemade noodles, and they did not disappoint. The helping size of my beef noodles was much larger than I am used to for lunch and there wasn't anything on the menu that I could see to make it smaller. The beef was really tender and had a flavorful seasoning. I would definitely come back for lunch or dinner and try one of their hot pots.
Gourmet Noodle Bowl PhotosGourmet Noodle Bowl
Taiwanese Style Ung Choy
Torrey's soup is bigger than his head
Spicy Beef in (very) Hot Pot
House Special Noodle Soup and friends
Duck for the soup
Duck Noodle Soup (pre duck)