#14. Asian Egg Noodles. It’s all about #14 for me at Urban Belly. I try to order other things, and I have, and they’re all good. But it’s #14 that keeps me coming back at least once a month for my Urban Belly fix. The protein in this dish is tofu. Tofu? As a bacon-loving, daily meat-eating omnivore, this is not the obvious choice for me. But I’m so glad I ever tried this dish in the first place, as I could have easily overlooked it on the tofu factor alone.
The crowning glory of this dish is the marinated Japanese eggplant. Other fans of the dish might say it’s the bits/slabs of crispy fried noodles that mingle with the soft egg noodles. Or the fried shallots and shower of Thai basil slivers. It’s all that-but most of all, it’s the broth. Oh, the broth! Without it, none of these other elements would sing. The broth is pork based, with a manageable amount of richness, set off by bright acidic notes. Sweet, sour with a good dose of spice; that ultimate interplay of flavors that’s the hallmark of Southeast Asian food. The tofu is the perfect consistency: firm, but not too firm, and as you might expect it picks up all those other flavors beautifully. Vegetarians will want to note that this dish is not vegetarian due to the broth, but they do offer a version of this dish with a vegetarian, gluten free broth and noodles (altogether another dish but worth trying if you are vegan or gluten free!).
So there you have it, one of Chicago’s most crave-able soups. I’m not alone on this one. Join the ranks and try it for yourself and report back!