Noodle Talk Home Cuisine opened a few months ago in the same plaza that housed Dittmer’s and Pho Vi Hoa. Before it opened I saw their ‘home cuisine’ banner once and wasn’t sure what they meant by it since so many commercial restaurants now abused the term ‘home cuisine’, or ‘private kitchen’, which originally became popular in Hong Kong when the term meant the establishment was genuinely not a licensed restaurant.
The restaurant was briefly discussed here for its link to Noodle Talk in Sunnyvale, that is primarily known for its noodles. Even though its close to home, but because my kids don’t eat much spicy stuff and my wife and I frequently got disappointed by regional Chinese cuisine in the Bay Area, we never bothered to come.
Last week my wife had a lunch with a group there and someone familiar with Hunan cuisine facilitated the ordering, and suggested specific non-noodle dishes. Very rare for her that she’s enthusiastic enough about a place that she suggests a return visit shortly afterwards. But we did go again days after her first meal.
We ordered a total of 4 items, so its not a big sample to form an opinion on the larger menu yet. It was a meal, however, created by delicate and skillful hands with very balanced flavors. Not one slathered with oil and spices indiscriminately, as is often in many kitchens of spicier Chinese cuisine with a more limited repertoire. The caveat is that none of our dishes was spicy.
From my least favorite to most favorite:
Honey lotus root with osmanthus. Lotus roots flavored with honey with dried osmanthus petals adding a floral aroma to the honey. Very sweet. I never particularly liked lotus root and this dish didn’t change that. My wife enjoyed the dish, however.
Beef stew noodle soup. With tendon, meat and belly. Soup was teeny bit spicy, subtly flavored with star anise and probably other components of five spices. Beef was tender. Noodle was the rice noodle (mi-xian) in Yunnan noodle dishes. Enjoyable.
Home made beef shank. Made in-house and came with a strong garlic dipping sauce. The sauce added a pungent dimension if used in moderation. Though I preferred without it or with something else that’s aromatic/ spicy. The shank was braised (or stewed?) in a light marinade. Because its not a boldly flavored dish, the subtlety may be lost if this is not consumed as the first or second appetizer before the stronger dishes arrive.
Smoked pork with radish skin. Absolutely delicious. The pork was expertly smoked in-house- savory, porky, a perfect blend of fatty and lean. The marinated radish skin was crunchy, savory in a different way, and could make a delicious meal by itself with a bowl of plain rice. The green pepper and what looked like chili oil brought the dish all together with a fragrant mild heat. The smallish dish was not cheap at $17, but more than made up with the skills that went into it.
Overall, a highly successful first meal for me and second meal for my wife. If they have a few more dishes on the menu at the same level as the smoked pork and radish skin dish, I’d be very happy.
Toilet humor: please watch your belongings and girlfriend.
Weekday lunch specials:
They kept the newspaper plaque on Oregano’s, the previous pizza place occupant, by the staircase.