Try to tell the noodles from the tripe.
Every once in a while, a new noodle slips into town. Remember when ramen arrived, not in a trickle but in an avalanche? Or your first bowl of peel noodles stir-fried with egg and baby bok choy at Sheng Wang?
Like Sheng Wang, the local birthplace of this new noodle is also on the southernmost block of Eldridge Street. Yi Zhang Fishball, Inc. pretends to specialize in fish balls. Mainly, though, it does noodles and dumplings, with nothing on the menu over $6.
The most expensive dish is called lamb stew with fish noodles. What you’d expect might be both fish and lamb in the same stew, like something you’d see at some remote fishing village in Portugal. But “fish” modifies “noodles,” rather than stands alone as a noun. As a result, Yi Zhang finds itself serving what is probably the city’s first version of fish noodles.
These noodles are wheat-based and coarsely textured, with a faint taste of, but more the mouth feel of, dried fish. Interesting, huh? The lamb component is restricted to various forms of ovine tripe from one stomach or another (showing our ignorance of sheep anatomy).
There are plenty of greens in the soup, too, and the broth is as nuanced as a French fumet. Order a bowl, and add these strange noodles to your noodle roster.
The outside of the new fishball joint
The view of the street through the tanks. The goldfish on the bottom is looking at you.
Yi Zhang Fishball, Inc.
9 Eldridge Street
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 9, 2012