The Surly Gourmand Says Szechuan Noodle Bowl Rules! (So Does Your Mom)

Pony for a Day.JPG
Do you want to be a pony for a day?
I love Chinatown. I only wish Seattle had a wider variety of towns. A town populated by midgets, for instance (Midgetown), would be fucking AWESOME. That would be so cute: imagine a neighborhood filled with munchkins, wearing doll clothes, driving Smart Cars,eating candy all day, walking their chihuahuas, sipping their short lattes. It's probably just as well that Seattle has no Midgetown: I would never get anything done because I'd hang out there all the time, hugging everything. And I'm well aware that you shouldn't call them "midgets." I'm not insensitive, you know. Midgets prefer to be referred to as "tiny assholes."

But sadly, Seattle has no Midgetown. Luckily the International District (aka Chinatown) is almost as good, if only because of Szechuan Motherfucking Noodle Bowl. Szechuan Noodle Bowl rules.Yes, with the harsh fluorescent lighting, shitty vinyl chairs, formica tabletops, and bizarre wall art, it doesn't have the most awesome ambiance, but only total douchebags would complain about such things. Actually I fucking LOVE the bizarre wall art; there are framed photos of northwestern locales like Crater Lake and La Push, as well as a Jackie Chan poster and, perhaps strangest of all, staged photos of toy horses cavorting through fields of flowers.

The food here is cheap: scallion pancakes are $3.50, though the Noodle Bowl's version, crunchy on the outside and doughy inside, is too greasy and sadly short on the aforementioned scallions. I've had MUCH better iterations of this classic elsewhere.

Dumplings with hot and spicy sauce ($6.50) come ten to an order and are filled with the usual minced pork, ginger, and scallion mixture, and wrapped in a semicircle of leathery dough. The biggest problem with these dumplings is the name: EVERY SINGLE ADJECTIVE IS COMPLETELY INACCURATE. While you usually can't go wrong with fried dough and meat, "bland and oily sauce" would have been more appropriate.

Still, one man's "bland" is another man's "subtle," and while the passionate love I make to your mom is neither bland nor subtle, the wonton and noodle with soup ($6.50) is the very picture of subtlety. For this price you get an enormous bowl of chewy handmade noodles, all tangled and serpentine like the writhing hair of some delicious doughy Gorgon. And the wontons, too, are badass: tender balls of pork shrouded in winding sheets of thin pasta and buried at sea in the BEST FUCKING BROTH IN THE WORLD. Seriously, I don't know how those assholes make this broth. It's clear, almost like consomme, with the most delicate flavor: a hint of ginger on the nose, maybe some scallion. I don't think it's chicken broth. It's utterly beguiling, almost feminine, and like a good poem, each sip promises something new: sometimes a grassy whisper, sometimes an earthy hint of mushroom. This is William Blake's "The Tyger" of soups: deceptively simple, dreadfully alluring.

Rating: 7 tiny assholes out of 10

Szechuan Noodle Bowl is located at 420 8th Ave S in Seattle


comments powered by Disqus

Friends to Follow