A Story of Confused Noodles
Sometimes, I find that people make the mistake of thinking that good food only exists in the major cities and this is coming from a Seattleites, born and bred. As a Seattleites, I noticed that there seems to be some form of pretentious one-sided rivalry Seattle has towards Portland and it’s close suburbs. As if Portland will never have the level of uniqueness, talent or prowess that Seattle holds over them.
To counter, I find that Portland could give two s***** about what Seattleites think. I think that is why I really enjoy Portland, not only as a food destination but also as a populace. The people are friendly, the food is diverse, and the Seattle freeze is thawed on the border of the Columbia.
On one such excursions to one of my favorite NW cities I happened to need a dinner destination. I had been in a long and dull all-day work meeting for the requirements of a new project. All I wanted was a knock your socks off, wake you up, homey meal that made me think I had traveled a thousand miles to a country more interesting than that meeting room.
Thank goodness for the interwebs, a few seconds on Google and I found the place I wanted to go. A place called Du Kuh Bee. I didn’t read the reviews, I didn’t have to. All I saw was “hand pulled noodles”. It brought me back, in culinary school, I tried to master the technique and failed miserably. That decided it, I wanted to know where my failure stopped and an experienced noodle puller’s experience began.
Driving up to the curb, the sign seemed to display a typical Korean Restaurant(Yes, hand pulled noodles are Chinese, but I am not going to ding them for that). The sign was a little dingy and seemed to be at least a decade old. However, walking in, I knew I had made the right choice. The place was small, the tables were crammed but the place was still packed and I still got an excellent seat at the counter(helps that I was a single diner).
When the waitress came around, I was ready to order. I ordered a bowl of the hand pulled noodles, grilled calamari and 16 oz of Hite. While I waited for the meal I was able to watch one of the cooks in the back pull noodles like a machine. It was like watching Swan Lake. His hands flowed so easily. I couldn’t believe it. He made what I struggled with, look like child’s play. I felt a little envy but also appreciation for the talent this man had worked hard to acquire.
My trance was broken by my food arriving at the same time. This was a little strange but I was ready to eat.
The grilled calamari came with a black slightly sweet dipping sauce. It went perfectly with the salty, grilled calamari. The slight smoke flavor with the soy and plum type BBQ sauce went together like PB and J, like Abbott and Costello. It made the one octave flavored calamari sing like Yma Sumac.
I ate this concurrently with the pulled noodle dish. It reminded me a little of spaetzle texture, a unique al dente that can only come from fresh pasta. It was cooked in something similar to a paprika oil and served with cabbage, onions and carrots. The spice from the paprika oil produced a beautiful harmony of all the flavors mixed in this large portion of noodles. I was one happy customer. Of course, the Hite paired well with the two dishes.
In the end, I left satisfied and full. It’s the kind of meal you don’t want to brush your teeth afterward.
Sometimes a meal doesn’t need to be in New York, San Fransisco, Seattle or other “Food City” to be a great meal. Sometimes a meal doesn’t have to cost 200 dollars and require silverware to be replaced after every bite. My favorite meals often are one or two plates and cost 10-20 dollars.