King of Casserole: New Peel Noodles, Fujianese Casseroles


King of Casserole opened about three months ago in the former New South Wind space. King of Casserole! The name inspires confidence.

The place is shiny and spotless, with a small bar serving bubble tea, milk shakes, and slush. The menu offers casseroles with a choice of noodles, hand-pull noodles, peel (or knife-cut) noodles, fried noodles and a selection called “South Wind rice” that seems to have been held over from the previous occupant, although the ownership is different.

The restaurant employs several servers, but the owner can’t seem to help but do everything herself, taking orders, making change, manning the tea bar. She confirmed that the restaurant is Fujianese, and said that she makes all the noodles herself. I asked how business was. “Not good,” she said. “No one knows we’re here.”

But they should. For one thing, the King (or queen, as the case seems to be) makes excellent knife-cut noodles, the wide, irregular, chewy strips fluttering in broth. We chose the lamb version ($5.75), which bobbed with a generous amount of bite-sized, meaty nuggets–likely from the belly, judging from the striations of fat. The broth has long-simmered body and a robust lamb flavor.

But we couldn’t leave without trying a casserole. We chose roast duck with hand-pulled noodles ($5.75), which gave off great clouds of star-anise-scented steam. The broth tastes as good as it smells, aromatic and deep. Like the knife-pulled noodle soup, the casserole was augmented with hard-cooked quail eggs, black mushrooms, and spinach. The hand-pulled noodles are perfectly good, but maybe with a bit less spring and chew than is ideal. The duck carries much more bone and gristle than the lamb, delicious to suck on for flavor, but not a meaty feed, if that’s what you’re after.

On first impression, Casserole King is a great addition to the legion of Fujianese noodle spots in Chinatown. I’m still thinking about the knife-cut noodles with lamb.

21 Division Street

[via this Chowhound query]