6-15-16 / Everyday Noodles / Pittsburgh, PA

On Wednesday night, we took my parents out for a Father’s Day meal at his favorite noodle joint in the entire city, Everyday NoodlesEver since my wife and I took him there a few months back, he’s been asking when we could head back and get some more soup dumplings. As always, the meal was spectacular.

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We shared the cold seaweed salad to start. Long, crunchy ribbons of pickled seaweed, with generous portions of sliced garlic, julienned carrots, and sesame seeds, the salad is an excellent pairing with any of the fatty meats or heavy dumplings. Seaweed is akin to green pepper skin, with a bit of push before the satisfying crunch, some deep earthy acidity and a slight sweetness, not really oceany as they prepare it. The cilantro added a nice component, balancing out the strong vinegar and garlic throughout.

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I love bubble tea and the options from Everyday Noodles are very unique. Although not as many choices in flavor as Rose Tea Cafe across the street, I love the addition of lychee jelly and Adzuki red beans in my milk black tea. The whole drink, from the creamy sweetness of the tea, the gelatinous chew of the boba, the slippery texture and tart bite from the coconut lychee, and the deep earthiness of the almost-savory red bean (very similar to standard red beans used in traditional chili) makes an incredible drink experience. It really works well to kill the underlying spice we had in a couple of our dishes and I like to enjoy it throughout the meal.

Of course we had to sample the variety of noodle dishes (many of which I’ve had before and enjoyed) all made with the homemade noodles.

My wife went with the Dan Dan Noodles Szechuan Style. Topped generously with sliced green onion and crushed peanuts, all over a deeply spiced peanut and chili sauce with ground pork. Mixing together the vibrant red chili oil with the noodles, the whole dish comes together due to the amazing tenacity of those wide ribbon noodles.

I decided on the borderline blasphemy of the Hot Spicy Wonton Noodles. Wontons on Noodles to me is like ordering linguini carbonara topped with lobster ravioli. An incredible mixing of the two pastas, I have to admit it’s quite indulgent. Wrapped tightly, but with a light wonton wrapper so that the envelope can practically melt away and allow the fresh shrimp and pork mixture to shine through the wontons are outstanding. Crispy, crunchy broccoli and sliced green onions work together to make you feel halfway healthy, cutting through the wontons and the red chili oil density. Another handful of red chilis both on top and within the sauce below kick the dish into another level. Not overly spicy, or with added heat just to set a dare, the dish really comes together cohesively and beautifully.

My Mom went with the Taiwanese Style Sesame Cold Noodles, which is usually found in Pittsburgh as a spaghetti noodle, tasteless peanut sauce, and sliced cucumber if you’re lucky. The traditional recipe is enhanced using a beautifully creamy and smooth peanut sauce, below the noodles, allowing you to mix the bountiful cucumbers, sliced cabbage, and sesame seeds all together to create bite with the crunch from the peanuts, sesame seeds, and cucumber, the smooth sweetness of the peanuts and peanut butter, with the yielding noodles. A lovely, light, and refreshing dish.

My Dad went with the Shrimp and Pork Wonton Noodle Soup with the thin rice noodle. The deep flavor of the salty chicken broth permeated the broccoli and noodles perfectly, creating a lovely, and cohesive soup. The standouts by far are the shrimp and pork wontons, which I also enjoyed on my dish. The density I mentioned earlier allowed the flavorful meat mixture of the wonton to thrive on its own within the flavorful soup, without having their two profiles forced to compromise in the middle.

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As a shared vegetable dish, we went with the Baby Bok Choy with a vegetable Oyster sauce. Bok Choy is one of my favorite vegetables and easily one of my favorites to order at traditional Asian restaurants. The crunchy white stalks slowly and softened towards the leafy steamed green ends, which soaked up the salty, deep umami of the oyster sauce like a sponge. Gorgeously green and fresh, the bok choy allowed welcome breaks from the carb-heavy noodles, wontons, and dumplings.

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While I think in many instances having a signature dish or a “can’t-miss” at a restaurant can sometimes lead to failure or disappointment, I cannot recommend the Pork (or Pork and Crab Meat) Soup Dumplings enough. I immediately fell in love with them the first time I tried them and haven’t looked back. Everyday Noodles has the monopoly on the soup dumpling in town: a huge spoonful of salty and sweet pork broth, chunks of pork (with even more sweetness from crab if you order them as such), all enveloped in a light, fresh noodle package. I like to enjoy mine on the soup spoon they provide, with a couple of strips of fresh ginger and just the lightest splash of soy sauce. They explode in your mouth like a big gulp of salty, meaty soup and the wonton wrapper helps hold it all together. Sealed like a closed lotus blossom at the top, it’s an amazing culinary experience.

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Finally, after my convincing, we went for some dessert to share with the table. We decided on the Coconut Sweet Red Bean Cakes. Expecting the dense, heavy dumplings stuffed with some red bean paste, these were a refreshing surprise. Sealed between two thick slices of coconut gelatin, the red beans were less of a paste and more of a mash. The cool, refreshing coconut jelly was coated heavily in minced coconut, which added a nice crunch throughout and counterbalanced the sweet, creamy gelatin and red beans.

 

The titular paradox of course, if that these noodles are anything but “everyday”. Impossibly long and toothsome, in every dish they were cooked to a perfect al dente, with still enough starch on them to carry the sauces and provide an excellent foundation for the recipes to build upon. Quality ingredients, especially quality noodles can elevate a dish far beyond comparable recipes. I look forward to more dim sum opportunities in a city with a well-established grouping of incredible Asian restaurants.

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