Given the terrible American laws (or lack thereof) on vacation days, a real, proper, holiday isn't on the cards this year. So you won't be getting any photos of me sipping margaritas and eating guacamole on a Mexican beach, which is where I would like to be right now, rather than in the midst of a New York, post-work thunderstorm. So to make up for this lack of restorative, life-affirming beach time, we are using our weekends to the max. Over the last four weeks we've spent two weekends on Long Island, one eating our way round New York with my parents, and the fourth in Philadelphia. And I'm feeling full, happy, and wanting to set off on another trip immediately just thinking about them.
Last weekend was the Philly mini-break. I took one of my very few summer Fridays and we arrived in this beautiful city early on a Friday evening. After dropping our bags off at our totally dreamy, please can we never leave, I am actually obsessed with this place (see photos above and below to explain why), Airbnb, we went in search of a drink and dinner.
Cheu Noodle Bar's lack of pretentiousness is wonderfully reassuring and refreshing. As someone who is constantly being bombarded with press releases about the newest perfect, genius, niche food product, a website that reads "What do we, two dudes from Philly, know about "authentic" Asian cuisine? Nothing.", makes me breathe a sigh of relief. Even if this lack of pretention does mean that the hostess will carry on cleaning the glass front door while you wait in front of it, outside the door, for her to finish, and she then turns away without even opening it for you, I promise it's a good thing. Here's why.
Drinks. Let's start with drinks. On a list of totally amazing sounding cocktails, they have the option of having their fresh juice of the day spiked with a spirit of your choosing. The juice was fresh watermelon, cucumber, and basil, and with a shot of ice cold vodka splashed into it, it was exactly what I want to drink on every sweltering city summer evening. (Maman - you'd have loved it). B had beer. He says it was good.
B insisted we had the much-raved about black garlic chicken wings. It's good that he's skilled at insisting. And that I don't take much persuasion when it comes to ordering chicken wings. They were sticky but not cloying, spicy without burning my mouth off, herb-filled, and with a refreshing squeeze of lime spritzed over the top. I would have been happy to just eat more of these and have another glass of juice and be done with the evening. But more food beckoned...
... In the form of tuna bombs. Raw tuna sashimi, stuffed with puréed avocado, served on crispy sweet potatoes, and topped with chile and sesame. I mean, um, do I need to tell you that these were ohmygadIneedtoeattheseeverydayforever good?
Noodles followed. Huge bowls of steaming noodles. Coconut curry noodles with cucumber, peanut sambal, chickpeas, and plenty of fresh herbs were hearty and spicy, and coated my mouth with some of my all-time favorite flavors. B had the extremely fusion-ified brisket ramen with matzo ball, kimchi, all in a red chile broth. While his bowl was far from a thing of beauty, what it didn't win in Instagram likes in won in tastebud appreciation.
We had come to Philly with (perhaps unfairly) high hopes of an exciting city, filled with spectacular food. CHeU Noodle Bar got us off on the right foot. If we lived here (maybe when we're done with NYC? I can dream...), I have a feeling CHeU would become a regular date night haunt.
CHeU Noodle Bar, 255 S 10th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107