Where else could this lovely bowl of noodles have come from but the Blackbird Cafe? Its eclectic mix of flavors mimics the curiosity shop aesthetic of the place so perfectly.
Here are tiny gazelle antlers grazing in artful herds among the salvaged mirrors of bygone eras. Chinese lanterns dangling yellow and orange from elegant tree branches, their bright red tassels a teasing foil to the monkish iron lanterns hovering nearby. And coral fans, like ancient lace, keeping the wall sconces mysterious and the lighting low.
And so it is with the spicy peanut noodles, which contains shades of Chinese Szechwan dan-dan noodles, pad Thai, and Korean bi bim bop. It may prove to be the best parts of each.
It arrives in a wide, white bowl: A bright orange sunny-side up egg surrounded by cubes of fried tofu, crushed peanuts, micro greens, cilantro, and a couple of lemon wedges — all hiding generously coated fettuccine noodles and an assortment of snow peas, baby bok choi, and broccoli.
(Note: It’s tempting to dive right in, but one must not neglect the proper order of things. As I am sure Sous Chef Jeremy Devon, pictured at left, would agree, it is absolutely critical to the overall flavor of the dish that the lemon wedges are squeezed and all the ingredients are folded into the noodles. Also, it is possible to purchase the noodles either plain for $9.95 or with Amish chicken ($13.95), flank steak ($15.95), or tofu ($11.95), but I prefer the latter. )
The peanut sauce is very rich; perhaps more so because of the added egg yolk, but it’s a far cry from cloying and the lemon adds additional balance. It’s also pretty spicy, but a complex Szechwan kind of spicy that’s not so palate burning that it overwhelms the rest of the dish — and that’s what makes spicy peanut noodles so fantastic. Each bite reveals a little of this, a little of that: now sharp scallions, creamy egg, and cilantro; now hot puffs of crisp tofu and spicy micro greens. Each flavor is distinct, yet as a whole, it is pitch perfect and delicious.
The one and only minor complaint about this dish is that the serving is rather large, and each bite is so different from the last that it’s hard to ever feel as if you had, in ladylike terms, a pleasant sufficiency. And so one often walks away from a bowl of spicy peanut noodles feeling a bit too full.