No. 90, Salted Egg With Bitter Melon & Scrambled Egg at Tasty Noodle House
Hey, don't ding us for listicles: Weekly DataLab studies show ustedes love this gimmick, launched in honor of our coming Best Of issue. Besides, it is rather fun to do this for us Forkers--an opportunity to highlight dishes from restaurants we'll never fully review, or secrets from old standbys. Anyhoo, let the march begin...
Tasty Noodle House's specialties are vast and all-encompassing. There's everything from Shanghai soup dumplings to stinky tofu to cold noodles slicked oily with peanut sauce. There are delicate, greaseless fried fingers of fish seasoned with seaweed and snakegourd simmered in a thickened clear gravy sprinkled with near-pulverized dried shrimp. The beef noodle soups are formidable. I've only begun to crack just the surface level of a menu that will take years to explore. But among all that I've tried so far, I already have a favorite, the one dish that I keep ordering again and again, visit after visit, takeout after takeout: the salted egg with bitter melon and scrambled egg.
Few foods on Earth does what it says and means what it does more honestly than bitter melon. No bones about it: bitter melon is bitter. If the flavor had a color, it would be whatever the opposite of sunlight would be. Detractors often say that bitter melon tastes that way because it's a deterrent--they'll say this is a plant not meant to be eaten. Tell that to hundreds of millions of Filipinos, Indians, Chinese, and Okinawans, who know it's healthy and very refreshing.
Tasty Noodle House's rendition, made with crumbled salted egg and scrambled egg, is kind of amazing. It's as greasy a stir fry as it can get, but the bitterness answers the grease, and the two kinds of egg balance the bitterness. Also, the more you reheat the leftovers, the better the bitter melon tastes, which is not to say it becomes less bitter or more mellow, just softer. Besides, you want that bracing bitterness. It makes you feel...alive!
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