Recently, I was invited to visit Gourmet Noodle Bowl and I welcomed the opportunity! The restaurant is located next to the International District / Chinatown Branch of the library, off the beaten path of more frequently traveled streets in Chinatown. I had never been there and with fall around the corner, hot pot sounded perfect!
Upon arrival, I was met by owner Ivy and her son Rick. They talked about the journey of the business and began setting up a feast! The hot pot was warming on the table with Thai style sour and spicy broth and laksa curry broth. An impressive platter of pork, beef, and lamb was brought out. Another platter of noodles, cabbage, pumpkin, enoki mushrooms, and greens was set next to the steaming pot. The price point for this all-you-can-eat hot pot is $18.95 or $19.95 when you add lamb.
As we waited for the pots to reach optimal temperature, we chatted and began sampling some of the other dishes. I love the luxurious nature of eating in an environment where time has no meaning and relationships matter the most. The popcorn chicken captured my attention. Having eaten many different versions of this Taiwanese snack, my mouth began to water. The chicken was fried crisp. Inside, the meat was dark and juicy, filled with marinade that it had likely soaked in for hours. It was topped with fried basil, a fresh and welcome component.
An order of salted pepper chicken wings appeared on the table. If you know me, you know I love wings! I looked at the table and realized that I would have to begin pacing myself right away or I wouldn’t make it through the generous lunch! The wings were crisp and the seasoning was similar, but not the same as the popcorn chicken. The crunch held up well during lunch.
The Thai style sour and spicy broth wasn’t too spicy but had enough kick to clear your sinuses on a chilly day. Perfect! The laksa curry was a flavor that I’m not used to with hot pot and it was addicting.
A special that day was the black pepper pasta on cast iron with beef (you can choose other types of meat). The beef was tender and sat on a bed of soft egg noodles coated with sauce. An egg sat off to the corner, sizzling as it cooked on the hot pan. For $11.95, it was more than I could eat, even if that were the only thing I ordered.
The spicy wonton was a dish that stood out. The wrap was done right and held together even as they sat in red, spicy liquid. The flavors were on point and the hit of ginger took it over the top!
Gua bao is a dish that I have regularly. The braised pork was excellent and cooked just right. It was soft and flavorful. The peanut sprinkle had a bit of sweetness to it which added a nice contrast to the saltiness of the pork.
You can probably tell, this is a lot of food! I wasn’t expecting a personal hot pot to come out of the kitchen but I’m glad it did. If you’re strapped for time and on a budget, the personal hot pot may be the way to go. At around $11.95, the portion is more than enough for lunch. I had the Japanese sesame pot with pork, noodles, bok choy, enoki mushroom, potato, tofu, frozen tofu, fish meat ball, black fungus, and quail egg. This broth was my favorite of the day! It was creamy and comforting. I love that all the ingredients were in the pot already! I can’t wait to go back to have more of this!
Another dish that is easy on the wallet is the braised pork over rice. Tender bits of seasoned pork is served over a bed or rice with Chinese pickles and boiled egg. At only $6.50, you can’t go wrong!
I’m not sure how I missed this hidden gem for years. The next time you’re waiting in a long line for a restaurant everyone is going to in Chinatown, consider walking a few blocks to visit Gourmet Noodle Bowl. I know I will!