If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Revisiting David Chang’s noodle bar in the East Village last month was as invigorating as it was four years ago. The bar hasn’t lost its bustle, its staff hasn’t lost its alacrity, and most importantly, his famous noodles haven’t lost their bounce.
Despite the snow flurry outside, I ordered what I did all those years ago: the chilled spicy noodle. The punch was exactly as I remembered, this airy spiciness that peppers the tongue and swells the eyes, but somehow compels your brain to keep going. It’s so light and bold at the same time. The raw spinach relieves, briefly, that ethereal chili spice that coats the alkaline noodles. The crunch of the sugary cashews meld right into the saltiness of crumbled Sichuan sausages. It’s a dish to remember, perhaps even more so than the headline Momofuku ramen.
The pork buns really need no review. Those not afraid of a little lard, get the pork. The shiitake, in my opinion, is just as powerful. Their reputation precedes them at this point, which might be a bit of a disservice if newcomers arrive expecting some game-changing experience. They’re good, clean, fresh, flavorful and craftily made, but not life-altering.
Under the radar are the smoked chicken wings, carrying a similar airy spice as the aforementioned noodles. The wings themselves are dainty, delicate, but their flavors are anything but. The smokiness is a super bold undertone to the chili and garlic seasoning.
It’s easy not to revisit places on this island of fleeting trends and punishing turnover, Noodle Bar is proving to be a comforting staple after all these years.