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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Hao Noodles and Tea by Madam Zhu

First thing to know; do not visit their Web site (link though it'll load for minutes). But do visit this restaurant. The restaurant is airy, delicately decorated and though new, feels nicely worn in. The menu is fun to read (tip of the hat to "Make Winter Great Again") and all dishes are delicious.

One Saturday late last month, our family went for lunch. Every dish was recognizable to us. And each dish was better than we've had elsewhere. The lion's head meatballs were more delicate and flavorful than I've had before. The soup dumplings had incredibly thin skins, the most lightly flavorful broth, with high-quality pork. Spicy chic pea noodle soup (豌杂面) was unlike anything I've tasted. It had that ma la Sichuan flavor with a sort of Tuscan homeliness. Even the fried rice was excellent; each component separately fried to 90% completion before all being combined quickly My favorite dish was the spicy marinated pork trotters. When you order this dish in a Chinatown restaurant, the pork comes on in a gelatinous mess with non-uniform pieces and no real taste of the dry-fried chilies. This is a wholly different experience. SoS felt assaulted by the minuscule portion. I thought it was not filling but still a great value for that quality.

That's not to say Hao Noodles and Tea doesn't have it's problems. Or rather singular problem: service. The five of us were seated like the path a knight takes on a chessboard. It was the most awkward seating we've ever had. Our amicable server didn't know much about the food and even less about the teas. Tea is in the restaurant's name and the two wait staff I inquired with just re-read the descriptions.

If you're in a group of six with an interest in really exceptional Chinese food, family-style, I'd highly recommend Hao Noodles and Tea. Just like Pete Wells.