Noted Oklahoma-eater Greg and I first discussed the idea of regular contributions to this site over the orange glow and troubling crunch of a KFC Cheetos Sandwich. He asked what my favorite food is, to get the idea ball rolling, and after about half a second of deliberation I said, “Potato chips?”
Then, more confidently, “Yeah, it’s potato chips.”
Turns out I don’t want to write a column about potato chips, though, on account of my real-life, earnest efforts to not have a diet comprised of mostly potato chips, so I suggested my other one true love, noodles: Italian pasta, ramen or ramyun (I’m Korean, myun vs. men forever!), pad thai… all noodles in all forms except the ones made out of zucchini or whatever because that’s just zucchini.
I also put forth a host of clever column titles: Noodledom™, the Noodle Bard™, Noodle Doodles™. Greg rejected all of those because “Noodling” is obviously better and very Oklahoman, and while I would not use my bare hands to catch a catfish, I would definitely use my bare hands to catch noodles, should the opportunity present itself.
So anyway. Off we go. Noodle Time O’Clock™.
If there’s a better restaurant with which to kick off a column about noodles, then I don’t want to know about it.*
*I lied to you already, five seconds into the VERY FIRST edition of this column! If there’s a better restaurant, I definitely want to know about it. Please tell me about it.
Borne from some of the ruins of my beloved Tsubaki Szechuan, which closed unceremoniously in March of this year, Yummy Noodles bears all the hallmarks of a restaurant I trust on my first visit: a banner instead of a permanent sign, a full dining room, canned soft drinks, and a menu in questionable-at-best English.
Yummy Noodles has a fairly brief, noodle-based menu (can you believe it), and most of the entrees are both spicy and soupy. Let me pause here and say it was 100 degrees Fahrenheit on the day of my visit. I won’t get into the science or folklore behind why people consume spicy foods when it’s unbearably hot, but I will tell you that:
a) That is definitely a thing, and
b) I am absolutely not one of those people
I didn’t want to miss out on what they might consider their signature dishes, though, so I braced myself to sweat through the N01, a spicy braised beef noodle soup.
The menu offers three types of noodles on most of the soups, and they didn’t have the hand-shaved option I was hoping for, so I went with what is listed as “noodles,” a basic, slurpable egg noodle. The soup had several large chunks of soft, braised beef and a heavy sprinkling of cilantro and green onion atop a bright red broth.
The broth looked way, way more fiery than it was; it had a clean, vaguely meaty flavor and hints of Sichuan-style heat, which is the numbing, buzzy burn I prefer over having my palate obliterated by unnecessary Scoville units. I mean, it was hot, but the right amount of hot. Not insanely hot.
My dining companion ordered a soup with the same noodles with sliced pork liver and pickled peppers, and reader, let me tell you, his was way better. The mineral richness of the thinly sliced liver and the extra punch of acid from the pickled peppers gave the soup layers of new flavors and made every bite heavier and a little bit surprising.
We shared some things that aren’t noodles, too, if I’m allowed to talk about that here: the “Little Juicy Pork Buns,” a standard pork soup dumpling steamed to order, and the crispy-chewy scallion pancakes, perfect with a little chile oil and vinegar, both available at every table.
Next visit, I’ll try the chile oil wontons, which our waitress told us are made fresh in-house every day, and also scallion pancakes again, and one or three of the eggs I saw stewing in a slow cooker next to the cash register. And also the pork liver and pickled pepper soup again...even if it’s 100 degrees.