Phnom Penh House Serves a Four-Way Noodle

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P.S. One of my new year's resolutions is to get a cell phone with a better camera.

Noodle: Foursome Beef Noodle

Source: Phnom Penh Noodle House, 660 S. King St., 748-9825.

Price: $6.50

Cincinnati has five-way chili. Olivar serves "rabbit three ways." And Phnom Penh Noodle House sells beef foursome noodle. It's the soup you order when you can't decide whether you want beef stew, beef noodle soup, or tripe noodle soup. And since I've never met a sampler platter I haven't loved, it's the only noodle soup I seem to order here.

Phnom Penh Noodle House is one of those places that I always forget how much I like until I walk in the door, since I always seem to pass it up in favor of the cluster of Vietnamese restaurants three blocks away that serve pho or bun bo hue. Since every table was full today, it's clear that no one else in the ID has the same memory problem.

I haven't tasted what the Yelpers claim is the restaurant's cult dish, bone soup, but I'm just fine with this dish, which is like a Chinese-Cambodian pho, noodles in a clear beef broth with toasted garlic scattered overtop and a sweetness that curls under and around the tongue as it flits by.

Slurping in the wide, soft rice noodles always feels like folding and unfolding silk scarves. They're punctuated with bites of thinly sliced rare beef, chunks of long-stewed beef, spongy beef meatballs, and tripe. Today I was upset that the cooks had replaced the honeycomb tripe, which they stew down until it caramelizes and barely holds together -- it's the highlight of the dish, frankly -- with the same crunchy, pale-white book tripe that most pho shops serve (if you click this link, the picture on top is book/leaf tripe and the one on bottom, honeycomb). Until the cooks rectify this grievous error, the dish should be renamed threeandahalfsome beef noodle.

 
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