Petitesoeur has given up on the W. Village, and we've decided that the East side is the place for us now to lunch and shop. So on our last excursion we went to Kampuchea Noodle Bar.
We started out with the pickle plate. I love when food is explained to you (unless it's at the Macaroni Grill or something - oh really, the olive oil goes with the bread...). Anyway, the waitress went around and described the pickle plate - the daikon were the sweetest, the watermelon rind was spicy, the cucumbers were sour, and my favorite the red cabbage started out sweet and ended up spicy.
Then we had a Crepe with Peppercorn, Honey Soy, and Sesame Seed Catfish (above).This was served with lettuce leaves, and the requisite mint, basil, lime, beansprouts, and sauce. Again, the waitress explained the idea was to tear off part of the crepe and filling, and make a lettuce wrap so that you could eat cleanly with your hands. So many flavors blending together - the crepe was slightly coconutty, the catfish nicely marinated, tender warm fish with crunchy cold sprouts, the mint and basil, the fishy sauce - oh so good!
It being a 90 degree day in the city, we opted for cold noodles. Chilled Rice Vermicelli with grilled berkshire pork, chinese sausage, over easy egg, sprouts & fresh herbs, sautéed shallots, crushed peanuts. Mixing the noodles up brought out all the flavors.
The pork wasn't as lush and fatty as that at Momofuku, but on all other accounts, I liked this place worlds better (more on that later). What the pork did add was a richness to the broth, the egg as well, and the toasted shallots (now I understand the reasoning behind the charring in pho broth). Petitesoeur bit into a dried chili pepper and had to ask for a bowl of rice. Lucky for us, because we used the rice to sop up all the remaining yummy broth!
As I said, I would much rather come back here than the much-hyped Momofuku. 1) Airy uncramped space, 2) pleasant wait staff, and most of all 3) such fresh delicious flavors. We've decided we need to come back in the winter to try a noodle soup, pulled oxtail, and seared sweetbreads. The also have Num Pang sandwiches. Petitesoeur wants to bring 1000yregg along so we can basically order everything on the menu.
Kampuchea Noodle Bar
78 Rivington St- At Allen St
New York, NY 10002