Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Good Night Noodle 2.0

Good Night Noodle is officially open! What an exciting journey seeing Good Morning Cafe finally transformed to its Southeast Asian alter-ego. It's been many months since a sneak peak tasting in March and now everyone gets to experience Vietnamese food with a healthier twist. 

We've yet to make it up to Good Morning Cafe for breakfast but despite sharing the same space, its evening counterpart has a very intimate and inviting atmosphere, perfect for date night. The focus of Good Night Noodle is mainly on Vietnamese staples like pho noodle soup and summer rolls sprinkled with Thai favorites like pad thai and other Asian-inspired specials. While flavors are global, the ingredients echo Good Morning's mission to bring locally-sourced organic, fresh, and minimally processed ingredients to your plate. This includes farm-fresh veggies used in the summer rolls and grass-fed beef in the signature meatballs for your pho noodle soup. To boot, for each bowl of pho served, Good Night Noodle will give 25 cents toward the purchase of one pound of rice for the villagers of Poysomroung, their adopted community in Cambodia. Eat good, feel good, do good--it's that simple! 

Flavorwise, I've touched base on the pho before and Chef Linh has managed to improve on its flavor. We each got a bowl of the beef noodle pho. It's not the broth you're looking for at Kim's, Van's, or Saigon Spring but still has familiar flavor profiles. The aromatic soup has a natural beefy flavor with a clear, clean tasting broth that's elevated by the homemade meatballs.  The texture of the meatballs is unlike the ones you get elsewhere. I kind of missed the chewiness of the mass produced ones but the flavors made up for its Italian meatball-like texture. J missed the usual mix of sliced eye round and brisket but he most definitely approved this version. We both agreed that while not completely traditional, it's a welcomed version that's good and good for us. But if you need extra sodium kick like we did, ask for the premium Red Boat fish sauce. Pho is all about adding accoutrements to your liking including a dash of sriracha and Linh's homemade hoisin sauce,  which by the way tastes ten times better than the jarred stuff. 

You'll also find classic Vietnamese appetizers like summer rolls with fresh seasonal veggies and a touch of classic herbs like mint and basil. But of course it's done with a twist; this particular night we got shrimp summer rolls with slices of sweet mango and crisp peppers. This summer roll was perhaps one of few times that I've enjoyed a variation on the classic especially because of the homemade cashew dipping sauce. Good Morning Cafe/Good Night Noodle is a peanut-free facility and this swap was genius. Neither J nor I missed the peanut flavor; in fact we preferred the cashew. For those with allergies and gluten intolerances, GNN is happy to accommodate too. 

Banh mi has been a pretty heated topic in the 518; don't even get me started on the banh mi wrap. We've accepted the fact that the Capital Region will never be able to replicate the $3.50 Montreal banh mi with a smear of pate and cold cuts but Good Night Noodle has come up with an acceptable alternative. According to Linh, the bread is a work in progress but it's the closest in texture to the beloved crisp and crackly rice/wheat blend. The GNN 
version is also a variation of banh mi with the same meatballs served in the pho. The firmer texture of the meatballs here works better as a sandwich; the beef version kind of expanded in the broth. The accompanying scallion-garlic-shallot-infused oil dipping sauce is as addicting as the cashew dipping sauce. Here you can order a full sandwich or go with the non-traditional appetizer trio (veggie/chicken/beef) for a taste of everything like we did. J is still raving about the chicken meatball version.

Good Night Noodle is one of few places (well one so far) whose unique take on Vietnamese food that we'll put our seal of approval on. It's also all pho a god cause (had to thrown in one pho pun!) 
Think global, eat local, and do good while eating good. It doesn't get better than that. Good Night Noodle is open every Thursday/Friday/Saturday from 5pm to 9pm. 


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