There are a number of references to famous faces (and maybe not so many) I have come across in my travels:
• Two-face is a notorious villain in the Batman franchise.
• Faceman (the Face), played by Dirk Benedict and later Bradley Cooper, was a member of the quartet which made up the A-team.
• My Brave Face was Paul McCartney’s attempt to import and adapt his immense musical talent into the mundane late 80’s pop scene
• Furnace Face was a 90’s Canadian Indy band who put out such songs as “We Love you, Tipper Gore” with an anti-censorship theme and “She Thinks She’s Fat” which addresses the body image image which plagues to this day.
The newest addition to the list is Noodle Face, the recently opened Chinese restaurant in Baldwin Village. Like many of it’s neighbours, it’s a no frills eatery with relatively inexpensive meal choices served with the ethnic flare of the far east. The hand-drawn sign is almost invisible among the other makeshift ones lining the street. Inside is no different. Concrete brick walls on one side and a hand drawn mural on the other, plywood counters and a large, messy blackboard highlight the 40 seat interior. I arrived around lunch and managed to get a seat by the window (in fact probably the only seat by the window). I was offered a tea which was served in an aged enamel cup as a ratty menu was presented containing all sorts of traditional Chinese noodles and soups as opposed to the more common ramen and pho. There is also a list of signature and specialty dishes ranging from pancakes to perfect chicken legs and secret buns you have to drop in and try.
The “Chef Q handmade dumplings” is a broth soup made with seaweed, scallions, a few glass noodles and the aforementioned dumplings. It was very different from the ramen and pho in that the broth was predominately sour versus salty. It was a bit of an acquired taste that got rather pleasant as you ate more of it. When you ate something else and went back, however, you were caught off guard again because of the sourness. The soup dumplings were thick and tasty and filled with flavourful, seasoned pork. The plentiful onions added a nice bite.
The dummy salad came with a choice of green beans or broccoli with no description other than that. I had no idea what a dummy salad was so I ordered it. Basically it was a plate of cold beans dressed lightly and topped with sesame seeds. The beans were not the freshest I have had but the dressing was subtle and refreshing. Otherwise, it was rather unremarkable.
The menu is in no way modest. Case and point is the Rou-Jai-Mo, which is described as follows: “Is mo a bread? Bun? Bao or Nann? Figure it out yourself for our top-rated small food.” Intrigued, I ordered one. I expected a soft pork bun but instead got something that I would describe as a cross between a crunchy english muffin and a tea biscuit. It was stuffed with meat which resembled canned flakes of ham seasoned with cilantro in both appearance and taste. It wasn’t unpleasant but it a was secret that wasn’t as juicy as anticipated.
Noodle face co. is a new joint with a no frills appearance that fits well with the Baldwin Street scene. Instead of duplicating the numerous ramen and pho houses, it offers unique fare more indicative of China than Korea or Japan. The menu is diverse and cryptic which either offers no description of items or very detailed warnings, precautions and promises. Although nothing blew my mind, I wasn’t too disappointed. If anything, the food is unique and the price point reasonable. Noodle Face isn’t pretty like Templeton Peck. It doesn’t aim to conform to the popularity of everybody else like at a late eighties Paul McCartney song. If anything, it’s kind of like Furnaceface; refreshingly unpredictable while making bold statements on a budget…but not for everybody.