Monday, January 31, 2011

Pulled this way and that for dinner

Green Papaya - Lien Hung Asian Grocery AUD3.99Image by avlxyz via Flickr
A great Thai salad is made with long, pasta-like strands of green papaya.

When Saturday rolls around, we start asking each other where we want to go for our one dinner out each week.

This past Saturday, I had just read a mouth-watering article online about restaurants that serve chewy, hand-pulled Chinese noodles in soups and stir-fries, but I really didn't feel like driving into Manhattan. Then, I remembered that Lotus Cafe in Hackensack served hand-made noodles.

I also recalled the Cuban seafood restaurant we saw on Bergenline Avenue in West New York, and how much we wanted to try it. Again, that would take some driving.

When the discussion came up, I suggested we go to Lotus Cafe for noodles, but my 13-year-old son said he didn't want Chinese food. He had been wanting to return to our favorite Thai restaurant, Wondee's in Hackensack. In the interest of not arguing, I gave in.

We had a wonderful meal, of course. We ordered our usual: steamed shrimp & pork dumplings for my son and wife; wonton soup with roasted pork for my son, and spicy shrimp with lemon juice and button mushrooms for me and my wife.

We also ordered som thum -- a crunchy, green-papaya salad with lemon juice, green beans, tomato and ground peanuts and shrimp. 

Our entree was pla ma now -- a whole sea bass covered with minced chili peppers and garlic, and swimming in a spicy broth I love to spoon over steamed rice ($15.95). Wondee's has some of the lowest prices on fresh whole fish.

It was a great meal, as usual, and we took home a big can of shrimp chips from Thailand and one of the homemade desserts -- a coconut-milk custard -- from the display in the simply decorated dining room. Our total bill before the tip was $61.85, including the take-out items.

I called Lotus Cafe this morning and was told it no longer has someone to make noodles in-house, though I've found the noodle dishes there still taste terrific. 

So, I'm planning to hit a couple of those hand-pulled noodle places in the city on Sunday, when you don't have to feed the meters and can park just about anywhere.

Here is the link to The New York Times article on hand-made noodles, missing the usual list of addresses and telephone numbers (use Google to get that information):

The Long Pull of Noodle Making

Wondee's Fine Thai Food & Noodles, 296 Main St.; 
Hackensack; 201-883-1700. BYO. Parking in rear.

Lotus Cafe, 450 Hackensack Ave., Hackensack, 
in the Home Depot Shopping Center; 201-488-7070. BYO.

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