Michelle, the boys, and I were in downtown Seattle Friday evening for some reason or another and started getting peckish (it being dinner time and all). We hadn't been to the International District for a while, so we thought we'd cruise some of our old haunts looking for a nosh.
We settled on the Szechuan Noodle Bowl, an ID classic. Michelle and I used to go there a lot when we were dating and first married, but for some reason or another, we hadn't been back for years. Big mistake.
The place certainly hasn't been updated since we were there last; it's a small place with fluorescent lighting, laminated tables, and a mishmash of photos and posters on the walls. But, like many great Chinese restaurants, you don't go to Szechuan Noodle Bowl for the decor.
You go for the crispy green onion pancakes. OMG, I had forgotten how good these are. These are easily the best green onion pancakes (cong you bing) I've ever had. The secret to their flaky, crispy deliciousness is lard. Everyone else seems to use the (presumably) healthier but way less yummy veggie oil between the layers of onion and dough. Not SNB. Nothing but the best here. Wow. It took all my restraint to not push my family out of the way getting to the crumbs.
Fortunately, just as Michael (8) elbowed me out of the way for the last wedge of pancake, the waitress arrived with plates of jiaozi (steamed dumplings - gyoza in Japanese). Unlike most Chinese restaurants, SNB makes these fresh every day with (most importantly) handmade wrappers. The result is a delicious, toothsome wrapper around great fillings. (In Chinese we say that wrappers like this have jiar or energy.) As regular readers know, I love meat, but surprisingly, my favorites were the veggie jiaozi -- spinach and tofu filled dumplings of love.
The beef noodle soup was almost as good as the first dishes. They actually have several different kinds of beef noodle soup; I chose the hong shao niu rou mein since it wasn't spicy so the kids would eat some. (This literally means "red cooked beef noodles" where "red cooked" means cooked in soy sauce. I forget now what they called it in English on the menu -- sorry). Anyway, the bowl was filled with thick noodles with good jiar, lots of falling apart tender beef (that Michael loved) and a tasty broth. Yum.
It was so damn good; I'm already dreaming of my next trip.
Szechuan Noodle Bowl
420 8th Ave S
Seattle, WA 98104