Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Me My Chinese Duck and NOODLETOWN




I started goign to Noodletown on The Bowery, way back in 1983, a good 14 years before Mario Batali ever dreamnt of the place, I was there eating Roast Duck over white rice, and my favorite thaing on the menu, the amazing Shrimp Wonton Soup. I was sort of an expert on eating in New York Chinatown, knowing all the best place, and what to eat. My favorites were The Double Hey Rice Shop on Mott Street, Sun Say Gai Rice Shop on the corner of Baxter and Canal, and a few other places in the neighborhood.

My ex-girlfirend Genie's Uncle Suwat taught me what I knew. He was the real expert. He was born in Bangkok Thailand, and je knew the Royal Family of Thailand. He moved to New York and opened an antique shop on West 10th Street in Greenwich Village. Suwat knew all the good places to go, and he gave me an education. I used to work at John's Italian Restaurant on East 12th Street in the East Village. Suwat and Genie would meet me after work, and we'd go down to Chinatown for some good eats, 

At Double Hey, we'd eat Fried Butter Fish, Roast Duck, BBQed Pig, Soy Sauce Chciken and all sorts of tasty Chinese Food. And so I was hooked. I really fell in Love with Chinese Roast Duck, and ate it 6 to 8 times a month. Back in the 80s when I lived in the East Village, I'd eat in Chinatown at least 2 times a week. The food was amazing, and so cheap, it was absolutley amazing. For years, Roast Duck over Rice, cost just $4.50 a plate. Even to this day, it's just $6.50 a plate. Barbecued Pig, Roast Pork, Soy Sauce Chicken, or Roast Duck, all cot the same amount, $4.50, or you could pick two of those items on a plate with rice for the same amount. You could get half Duck and jalf Pork with rice for just $4.50, and if you wanted 3 items, you told the waiter which three you wanted and it was jist 1 dollar more.

I also loved  Roast Duck & Wonton Soup, which was a big bowl filled with chicken broth, Roast Duck, and Pork Wontons, all for juts $4.50 (now about $6.50). I loved it. Noodtown which I discovered on my own, was what is known as a Rice Shop, and they had all these dishes too, but I discovered their amazing Shrimo Wonton Soup in 1983 and I was hooked. It was amazing. I loved it, and still do. When I went to Noodletown, aka Great NY Noodletown, I always got the Shrimp Wonton Soup, and maybe Roast Duckm or antother item. But whenever in Noodletown, I always had a bowl of that tasty soup, that no other place could make quite as good as Noodletown.



People always talk about Mario Batali and how he discovered Noodltown and told all the other chefs about it, like he was the first chef  (or cook) to discover the place and turn all the other people in the indsutry (restaurant business) about it. "Not" ! I was eating in Noodletown a full 14 years before Noodletown was ever a thought in Mr. Batali's mind. And I was a Chef too. Being in the restaurant business since I was a teenager, first as a busboy, then waiter, going to Culinary School, cooking, then I became a Sous Chef and finally Chef at Corado Restaurant and Bar Cichetti, before wising up, getting out of the kitchen and becomming a Sommelier, and one of the Top Italian Wine Guys in New York, along with Charlie Shiccilone, and Renzo Raspiacoli.

Yes I dsicovered and was eating Noodles, Pork, and Duck 14 years before Noodletown was a glimmer in the great Mario Batali's eye. 

I ate all over Chinatown, Chinese Food, Vietnamese, Malaysian, and Camodian, starting in 1982. Well I ate there when I was a kid, long before the 80s, but it was in the 80s when I really started getting seriously into it, and it became a wonderful obsession.

My ex-girlfriend Dante used to eat at Nahn Thrang Vietnamese Restaurant every Sunday, and I ate too many bowls of Pho to count, long before the Pho crave that started a good 15 years after my first bowl. And the Pho back then, yep just $4.50 for a huge bowl. "Ah the Good ol Days"? Now the younger generation are opening restuarants, and charging a lot more for the food. Not happy about that, but there's still a few more reasonable places around, though little by little they disappear. Again, the good ol days. Wish we could bring them back. Anyway, I'm oh so glad that Noodlewon is back, and good as ever. Amen.

 Daniel Bellino Zwicke










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