I went to Noodle King on the advice of Jay Friedman, who is also known as the most prolific food blogger in the known universe. Noodle King is located in this cool, strange, wood-paneled building in the International District. When we sat down I noticed a bunch of dodgy Eurotrash types and scruffy dudes who looked like rappers from Marseilles drifting in and out of the adjacent building adjacent. It turns out there's a hostel next door.
Depose the Noodle King!
We started with a plate of pot stickers ($6.95). For this price you get eight large dumplings, crackly brown on the bottom but still soft on top, folded around a slug of ground pork. The filling was pretty typical: maybe some 5- spice powder, maybe some ginger. These pot stickers were good, but I doubt the starving lodgers next door would pay that much for them. After all, they've got to save every penny. It's not like they're giving Kraftwerk MP3s away on iTunes, you know. Something just occurred to me: that last sentence I just wrote would be COMPLETELY indecipherable to a guy who died in 1970.The beef noodle soup ($4.50) was okay. Tender cubes of beef were submerged in a watery broth with shitloads of noodles and a couple quartered stalks of baby bok choy. Sadly, calling this dish "beef" noodle soup is a misnomer since there were only FOUR FUCKING CHUNKS OF BEEF IN IT, which is a damn shame because the beef itself was VERY good. They should've called it "Noodle soup which may or may not contain the following: beef." The broth was okay, with a hint of five-spice powder.
For two dollars more you can get any handmade noodle dish. There's a guy in the back of the kitchen who grabs a huge wad of dough and slaps it around and spanks it and stretches it out. This guy basically recreates my evenings spent with your mom, in dough form. Then he sort of plays "Cat's Cradle" with the dough, drawing it out into floury filaments, which he then cuts and plunges into a pot of stock to cook it. While it's really cool to watch the dude making the handmade noodles in the back of the kitchen, they weren't nearly as good as the thick doughy noodles you can get at places like Jack's Tapas or Chiang's Gourmet. Good handmade noodles should be as unrepentantly sturdy and muscular as a burlesque dancer's thigh. The handmade noodles at Noodle King were thin and floppy.
Ja Jiang noodles ($4.95) were pretty good. Handmade noodles were tossed with black bean sauce, a few miniscule pieces of roast pork, and topped with julienned zucchini and delicate filigrees of scrambled egg. The sauce was a dark mahogany color, and very rich, but it was lacking something. It needed spice, or smokiness, or SOMETHING. Eating the Ja Jiang noodles was the gastronomic equivalent of staring at the wall inside a Starbucks.
Noodle King is CHEAP, which makes it the perfect fare for all of the backpackers staying at the hostel next door. But it's cheap because it's a weak king: the culinary Edward II of England. I recommend regicide.
Rating 5.5 kings out of 10
Noodle King is located at 522 S. King St.
To place an order call 206-623-3905