The Great Chinatown Conflict 2017: Resolved with Rye and Lo Mein

24 Oct

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Gerry was concerned. We had scheduled our monthly food group well in advance. But now there was a sudden conflict. The Yankee fans among us, Zio, Gerry, and me were in a quandary. The fifth game of the knotted American League Championship Series was to be played at 5. We were to meet in Chinatown at a place chosen by me called Noodle Village at 7:30.

“Time to reschedule,” Gerry wrote in an urgent email once the Yankee schedule was confirmed. “We got an important game tomorrow.” He pleaded to reschedule either the next day when there was no game or the following week, but with each suggestion, someone had to drop out.

“Why don’t we meet at a bar in Chinatown, watch the game, see where we are by 7:30 and if the game is still in doubt, stay at the bar and go eat after the game,” I suggested.

Gerry, Mike from Yonkers and Zio liked the idea. Eugene, however, possibly still stewing from the early exit his Red Sox made was not happy. “I will not be going,” he wrote the next day. “I do not want to deal with the nyc traffic and Yankee traffic…”

All of us tried to convince him he could make it to the restaurant in plenty of time or meet us at the bar whether he drove or took the train, but once Eugene makes up his mind about something, there’s not much even the prospect of  a village of Chinese noodles can do to change it.

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The bar, Whiskey Tavern, was a few blocks from Noodle Village, which, on Mott Street, was a few doors from the Chinatown legend of our collective youths: Wo Hop (Obsession Confession).  While Gerry and Mike from Yonkers sipped Redemption Rye, I settled on cold beer as my viewing beverage of choice. The Yankees’ play made it a happy time at the happiest of hours and by 7:30 we were confident enough with the Yankee’s comfortably leading to exit the bar and head to Noodle Village.

Judge

Happiness is fleeting

Passing a line of hungry people waiting up the steps of Wo Hop, we arrived at the equally crowded, Noodle Village. There were no free tables for our group of four and for the first time in our 16 years, we had to wait to eat. But the wait was a short one and it gave us time to follow the remainder of the Yankee game on our cell phones. By the time Mike from Yonkers was served his chicken congee, the Yankees had won, 5-0.

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Chicken congee

I cannot lie that the flavor of the steamed crab meat soup dumplings and fried pork and chive dumplings were possibly enhanced by our baseball joy; they were as good as I have ever eaten. But it wasn’t just me, Gerry was raving over  the squid and pig skin with curry sauce lo mein.

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Squid and pig skin lo mein with curry sauce

Zio had to repeat his order of pork liver and kidney lo mein to the waitress who had a difficult time comprehending that someone of his chalky hue would actually order such a dish. After a few bites from his chopsticks, a strange sound came from his mouth. “Hmmm it has an earthy flavor,” he said. Whether he was referring to the kidney or the pork liver, we did not know.

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Kidney and pork liver lo mein

I kept it simple with a bowl of shrimp wonton soup and a communal plate of Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce and, like everything else at Noodle Village, enjoyed every slurping spoonful.

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Chinese broccoli

Outside, on Mott Street among the familiar black garbage cans that litter the crowded curbside, Zio gave Noodle Village the ultimate compliment. “I’m coming back here,” he said. “And I think I’ll bring the Colonel.” If Zio contemplates bringing his wife, also known as the Colonel, to one of our eclectic destinations, it can’t get much better than that.

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Crab meat soup dumplings

Noodle Village

13 Mott Street

Chinatown

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