#12 - Cheu Noodle Bar

Philadelphia Magazine came out with their latest Top 50 Restaurants list, and I have set myself a goal for 2015. I want to eat my way through every restaurant on the list. Now many of them I have already enjoyed immensely - like Marc Vetri's four restaurants on the list (Vetri, Amis, Osteria, and Alla Spina) or Jose Garces' Amada or such new classics as Vedge and Talula's Garden - so I am happy to risk the other, and I will focus on those I haven't sampled yet, at least to start.

The guys at Cheu Noodle Bar may not be into some elusive and stagnated authentic ramen experience (whatever that is), but they are into flavor, and wow just wow. Ranked #12 in Philadelphia Magazine's list, Cheu produces deeply satisfying bowls of noodles that are the product of layers of flavor deftly assembled by cooks who genuinely love food.

I started with the dumpling of the day, which was a magnificent mouthful of short rib, pork, and date encased in a perfectly formed gelatinous rice wrapper, and drizzled with a chile oil that didn't burn my mouth off, and just a bit of scallion and fried quinoa for crunch. It was heavenly. They even made me like quinoa, and I do NOT like quinoa.

Next was the miso noodle bowl with pork shoulder, soft boiled egg, and black garlic with a little pork belly from the add-on menu. The pork, in both forms, was stunningly delicious, with the shoulder having the consistency of confit. The broth had the depth of umami from the miso with unexpected sweetness of the black garlic. Through in a bit of ginger, asparagus, seaweed, and some bean sprouts, and you have ridiculously amazing noodles!

Sitting at the bar, watching two young cooks prepare everyone food with great care and obviously enjoyment was a show worth taking on a regular basis. I cannot wait to go back and try something new. 

One down, 49 to go, and 359 days to go. 


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