Sunday, December 13, 2009

OBao 12-12-2009

Location: 222 E. 53rd St.
Time: 9:30pm
People: RB and myself

Feelings: After stopping at J's toy drive party for Inwood House program, we walked a few blocks to check out Michael Huynh's new noodle shop, OBao. It seems all the new Asian speciality restaurants are opening up in Midtown nowdays: Ma Peche and Onya to name a few. Midtown workers such as myself are quite lucky with the variety of food we can expect nowdays from cart food to authentic Asian cuisine that can compete with the quality of many Queens restaurants.

I had never really been to Midtown on weekends, so I did not know what to expect, but OBao was somewhat crowded with big groups. Once you pass by the entrance area, we were seated at the back dining room. It was dimly lit with large mirrors on the wall. The center island of communal tables were nice touch.

We started off with vegetable spring rolls ($7), but we were somehow served crispy spring rolls with pork instead...or the tofu and jicama were seasoned so well that they resembled the flavor of pork. I am not sure which. Either way, the skin was very crispy and light and overall well executed.

My dear friend GB mentioned several times about laksa and its popularity in her hometown of Sydney. (Apparently it is as popular as pizza in the U.S.) Unfortunately in New York, you would have to venture out to Chinatown or Queens to have decent laksa, so I was pleasantly surprised to see curry laksa ($9) on OBao's menu. I was also surprised to see soba noodles in the laksa soup since I am used to seeing rice noodles or rice vermicelli. Soba is indeed healthier, so I welcome this nice twist, but I am not sure if soba noodles were able to carry the flavor of curry. I also felt that the noodles were overcooked, and there is nothing worse than overcooked soba while overcooked rice noodles and rice vermicelli noodles are acceptable, sometimes even taste better overcooked in the curry.

RB ordered turmeric and dell fish with vermicelli noodles ($13, Not sure why they didn't just write "Bun"). The fish was very oily but had a nice flavor. Unfortunately there was no fish sauce at our table for the bun, and we were not served any, so he was forced to steal from another table. Shame! Driven to the crime of stealing fish sauce! Until he was able to obtain the fish sauce, he had to eat bland vermicelli noodles.

If you are craving laksa with modern twist in midtown, OBao would be a great place. The price is reasonable, and space is very contemporary and clean. The waitstaff was very friendly, but I wish they brought us food we ordered and the appropriate sauce.

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