Saturday, April 24, 2010

playing hookey

SUCH a fun evening.

Background: Bridezillas are stock character enough to inspire their own show. For the past SEVERAL weeks, we’ve been in touch with their bizarre relative: the father-of-the-groom-zilla. His perfectionism is, understandably, not on the dress, but rather on the CHOIR QUALITY. So we had many, many, MANY practices, and there was much, much, much angst.

Me (soprano, with a voice that now sounded like a chain smoker of thirty years) and my mom (alto) decided to go ahead and skip the reception :D

Our church is in Potomac, which means we were already most of the way to Rockville, home to…

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Bob’s Noodle 66! Doesn’t the charm and whimsy of that name just give you the sense you’ll be transported somewhere amazing?

Bob’s Noodle 66 serves TAIWANESE! And hey hey guess what I’ve already BEEN to TAIWAN! Naturally, I had to go remind my belly of the great happiness it experienced there. Plus Bob’s has been one of my favorite restaurants for a long time- so warm and friendly, always full of cute families, and fabulous fabulous food for a great deal. We were talking and realized that the last time we’d been there had been my 17th birthday (!)

My Asia family introduced me to the “order-so-much-food-the-table-is-on-the-verge-of-collapsing-and-eat-the-leftovers-for-breakfast”, which translated nicely stateside. Observe:

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Let’s break this down.

Oyster pancake:

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An eggy batter with fresh oysters atop a bed of dark leafy greens with an unbelievably delicious tomatoey sweet and tangy sauce (it would not surprise me if the Americanized version had incorporated some ketchup). We always got this at Bob’s, even before I knew it was the real deal!

Beef noodle soup:

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Like the national dish of Taiwan. Beef, super thick and chewy udon noodles, and dark greens in a crazy delicious broth. Obviously I am a pho lover, and while delicious like pho the flavor profile is totally different in this beefy noodle soup of deliciousness. Dark, rich, and intense, it definitely skews a bit sweet? And there’s star anise involved, I suspect. I think I’ll interrogate my Taiwanese stepmother the next time I see her to ask her about it!

A bit camera shy:

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One pancake is just… not enough! This one was the radish and egg pancake. I actually was thinking about a radish cake I ate at this meal in Taiwan, and this was different but nonetheless delicious.

Okay, so we knew we wanted to order those dishes but (clearly underestimating their volume! In part due to their very reasonable prices) we wanted to get one more thing and asked our waitress for a recommendation. She suggested the night’s special, a “double delight”.

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Wowza. On the right is black pepper shrimp which was splendid. On the left was “crispy flounder”, which I honestly blanched at cause you know the diet police say avoid anything called “crispy” blah blah blah.

WELL. Not only was the flounder insanely pristinely fresh and delicious, it was PERFECTLY fried so it was absolutely ethereal; positively lighter than air; crispy and melt in your mouth delicious. The sauce on it, meanwhile, while I have no clue what it contained (we spent a few mostly silent, contemplative moments occasionally going “… garlic”… “… vinegar”…) it was… bliss.

And again, it’s just a fun restaurant. The couple next to us spent most of their dinner speaking Mandarin but then leaned over to tell us that it was cash only (the only slight drawback of Bob’s) and then just struck up a conversation with us because they’d heard me speaking about Taiwan and they were Taiwanese and people from Taiwan are the friendliest people on earth. So we had a nice little chatsie!

So yeah, that was more, more than enough food. We have leftovers for a week. Yesss.

However, at this point we were just at a fun outing, delighted to be skipping a reception (me in particular- every well-meaning old church friend likes to ask me if I have a job yet. NO. I DON’T. YES I KNOW THE ECONOMY IS BAD THANK YOU FOR POINTING OUT THAT VERY HELPFUL INFORMATION), and wanting to do more.

So Yelp had raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaved about Carmen's. Like, I’d really never seen anything like it- I don’t think anyone gave it anything other than five stars! Carmen’s has soft serve, fro yo, and plain Italian ice, but their specialty (and what everyone said to order) is the gelati: frozen custard layered with Italian ice.

So we arrived, and the place looked like a carnival. We had stumbled on both Carmen’s ninth anniversary and the grand opening of a pizza place next door and just… insane quantities of merriment. Dude playing the guitar. Sweepstakes to enter. Exciting people selling and sampling things outside (more on that in a sec). The place was packed with happy families, and totally adorable.

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Please note that the thing on the right was a TOPPINGS BAR (or rather half of one- that was all fruit and there was also another section with scads of nuts, candies, mochi, and general blissfulness that my appetite was just not strong enough to do justice).

We both went for the gelati:

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I was sort of kicking myself for getting the small, since it turned out that the small and medium were the same anniversary special deal price of $1. But it was better… my poor tummy can only handle so much (my mom got the medium and took like half of it home with a lid… so actually I ended up eating more hahahaha).

So hers on the right was mango ice with vanilla frozen custard (nummy) and mine, on the left, also vanilla custard, was cherry ice and was AMAZING! It had cherry chunks in it. Took me back to my childhood when I just wanted cherry-flavored anything all day every day :D

Right outside Carmen’s were these adorable ladies, the creators and bakers of Flutterby Cupcakes.

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They were so nice and friendly, and I told them about the blog so hi if you’re reading!

Yes, those are samples! I tried the chocolate with peanut butter frosting which was so insanely delicious that I (as I’m sure anyone who tastes it) immediately tried to find out how they did it. And they said it was a trade secret. Sad.

So, yknow, we bought one. Plus a red velvet for good measure. Which maybe we’ll eat in a WEEK, when we might have an appetite again!

Fab, fab night.

6 comments:

lavierustique said...

Eee, I love walking into restaurants and knowing I'm in good, authentic hands; my favorite Chinese restaurant, well, I unwittingly stumbled in there on Chinese New Year and the place was packed to the brim with just one family. Everything was written in Mandarin and translated (sort of); you know it's good when fish cheeks and pig's ear have their own dishes.

That gelato looks amazing! Nocciola is my favorite but I can't hate on those pretty spring colors.

Molly said...

WOW that does sound like an absolutely fabulous night! I have never ever tried Tiawan food but it looks so good! I bet it is. I had a teacher in grade school who lived in Taiwan numerous years before coming to teach. She would always tell us about the culture, etc...

Why have I never heard of gelatini. That looks super fun!

Tamara Marnell said...

I never really thought about it, but my Singaporean mother is the same about restaurant food. She had some friends who ran a Chinese restaurant (well, they weren't friends until she went to the restaurant, but by common language and background they made quick ties) and whenever we would go the dishes could barely fit on the table. Growing up I assumed it was normal to go somewhere for dinner on Sunday and eat leftovers for the rest of the week until the weekend came and we could get it fresh again.

Julie said...

taiwaneese! or however you spell it haha. that sounds a-may-zing!!

and what adorb cupcakes :)

Linda said...

This reminded me that I need to visit a Taiwanese restaurant more often. I'm familiar with the type of dishes but have never tried any, except the beef noodle soup. All your dishes look delish!

Tara said...

Awesome! If your going to play hooky do it right!!! Haha it sure looks/sounds like a great afternoon you spent withyour mom!!
Have a great day!!!! <3 <3