Ever the staple of schoolchildren’s lunch boxes and cash-strapped college kids, peanut butter typically evokes culinary nostalgia and routine more than kitchen innovation. But at East Broadway Restaurant Inc., a small, often crowded eatery on the edge of Chinatown, the quotidian legume paste makes for a bold and surprisingly tasty dish. And for $2, noodles with peanut butter is an inexpensive and filling pick.
In some respects, the selection tastes exactly like the ingredients would suggest: It’s very much flat noodles with warmed and liquefied Skippy (or Peter Pan, perhaps) as sauce. Still, it’s as nuanced and distinct as it is simple. A dash of black pepper, a handful of chopped, green onions, and what tastes like a splash of sesame oil give the plate needed balance.
Often, peanut sauces and condiments are too thick, uniform, and sweet. But the spices in East Broadway’s provide a slight kick, the hot-but-not-scalding temperature giving it a requisite thinness. You probably wouldn’t get the same hearty effect with satay, which can give pasta an overly candied flavor. Even pad Thai can taste too sugary without the cooling earthiness of bean sprouts and savory sliver of egg.
If you do order the noodles with peanut butter, keep one thing in mind: While not rich in the typical sense, this is one heavy food. There’s no meat or vegetable component to break up the continuous, dense texture. Sure, you could make a meal of this dish, but it’s more enjoyable when eaten as a side. Try pairing with East Broadway’s sautéed shredded pork with bitter melon.
East Broadway Restaurant Inc.
94B East Broadway
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