I was back at Gene’s DTX after a close to 4-year gap (3 of those for obvious reasons). Half the space is tabled off now, with just a couple of tables for those wishing to dine in. Nobody was while I was there. The line of tables acting as a barrier between you and the original ordering counter (and the kitchen window) is marked off with spots for pickups by Grubhub, DoorDash, ChowNow, and the like, and a small spot for direct online or phone orders. It was 1 p.m., and sadly they were not busy. I ordered a #4 – what else could I possibly do? – along with two lamb skewers and a tea egg.
The skewers were very good, but not the best I’ve had from them (slightly on the lean side). Seemed to be just batch variation, though, not a decline. The #4 was very good, and to steal @tomatotomato’s words, the force of the garlic is still strong with it. That worked in my favor, though. Nobody sat next to me on the train to NYC that I took shortly after.
In the years since my last #4 and this one I’ve had many #1s at Noodles King, a serious competitor (and there’s the version at MDM Noodles as another). Here’s a quick comparison:
Garlic coefficient: Gene’s by a long shot.
Vinegar piquancy: NK (although for both it and Gene’s you have to stir up from the bottom)
Spiciness: NK slightly, although both its and Gene’s versions seem muted compared to the past.
Complexity: NK, by a wide margin, with its greens and sprouts. (But, of course, you may prefer the simpler, blunter approach of Gene: Chewy noodles, garlic, a touch of vinegar, heat, more garlic, cilantro).
Noodlosity: Gene’s are thicker and chewier, NK’s, while by no means delicate, are slightly less rustic.
A couple of comments: If you order directly online for a Gene’s pickup, the only option is “in 15 minutes”. But they explained that if you place such an order, you can call them with an ETA, and they’ll accommodate you.
I was a little taken aback, I must say, at how deserted it was at a time when in the past they’d be mobbed. Later this evening, on arrival in NYC, I walked up 9th Ave to my pad in Hell’s Kitchen and the restaurants were slammed --on a Wednesday evening. They’re packed in the afternoons too. This is a good subject for another thread.