Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Noodles on 11

It's no secret that I love noodles. I've also mentioned my quest to try every restaurant within a several block radius of our house. So, when a noodle shop opened up near our house, I couldn't wait to get there.

You might recognize this as the old Sushi Aoi space. The owners closed neighboring Mazu, moved Sushi Aoi into the Mazu space, and opened Noodles on 11 in Sushi Aoi's old locale. The sushi bar is still there but now you can sit and slurp noodles instead of nigiri.

Since I'm an equal opportunity noodle lover, I had a really hard time settling on what to order. After bouncing around the menu (and the Asian continent) from pho to tom yum to Hong Kong style noodles, I decided on the Suki (Thai-style sukiyaki with shrimp, beef, chicken, and egg in a house special sriracha sauce with bean cellophane noodles). At first sniff, I knew the broth was going to be packed with flavor and the taste matched the smell. However, for a dish that lists so many ingredients, it just felt kind of sparse. I'd prefer to have them pick one protein and give me more of it than have a single shrimp, a few pieces of chicken, and no identifiable beef. The noodles, made in house, were pleasantly soft but either B ate most of them when I gave him a few bites or they didn't put too many in the bowl. At $11.95 (lunch price) and with a bowl the size of Pete Carroll's ego, I just expected more oomph.

B, following the suggestion of the framed article on the wall and hoping to recreate the quacktastic magic of Mark's Duck House, ordered the Hong Kong style noodles with roast duck. Don't worry Mark, you're safe at the top of the duck heap. The duck had a nice flavor but was on the tough side. The noodles were a big, stuck-together clump. Maybe the addition of some sauce would've softened things up and made it easier to eat? When your bite didn't include a piece of duck, you were left with a glump of sticky noodles. I know glump isn't even a word but it's the best way to describe these noodles.

Somebody please tell me that we just didn't order the right things. I can't bear the thought of having a noodle shop so close to my house that leaves me feeling so...glumpy.

Second Thoughts from B

In the government we seldom call things outright "failures." Instead, we focus on the "challenges" or "obstacles," but my favorite piece of governmentese is "missed opportunity." Noodles on 11 was the ultimate missed opportunity. As J described, everything was there for us to have a new local favorite but when you're paying $10+ for a noodle dish that needs better noodles, this is not a business model we can get behind.

To expand on the vocabulary lesson, let's go a little deeper into J's "glump." For those of you who were once teenage boys, there are two type of noodles: the ones you eat by the pound and the ones you throw at your buddies because they'll stick to their face. Glumpy noodles are the latter.
I'm tempted in this space to tell a story about a certain member of my family being confused about how to cook noodles, but I'll spare this kitchen-limited loved one. However, I will say that there was anxiety over how much water should be boiled and for how long. Now, if I was served a glump of noodles from this unnamed family member, I'd probably give them a pass. But when you're paying for a dried-out sticky mess from a place with noodles in the name, that's a missed opportunity. Some would even call it a failure.
Noodles on 11 on Urbanspoon


Alix said...

Boooo. I was hoping when I saw the title that we might try this place in our attempt to visit Japan in DC. Guess not!

J said...

Definitely did not bring back memories of the noodle house we went to in Japan. Try getting stuff to make at home at Hana Japanese Market on U Street or I've heard Temari Cafe waaaaay out in Rockville is about as close to authentic as you'll get without spending Makoto-style dollars.