#19: Hot-and-Sour Noodles at Joy Luck Buffet

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The hot-and-sour noodles at Joy Luck Buffet - Ian Froeb
Ian Froeb
The hot-and-sour noodles at Joy Luck Buffet
One of the coolest discoveries of the past couple of years, tipped off to me by several readers, was the authentic Szechuan menu at Joy Luck Buffet, an otherwise nondescript Chinese buffet in Brentwood. Though the beguiling numbing sensation caused by the Szechuan peppercorn is the hallmark of these authentic dishes, it is absent from my favorite dish there, the hot-and-sour noodles.

The dish is a small bowl of translucent noodles in a fire-engine-red broth with the heat of red chiles and a strong, vaguely citrus-like sour note. A scattering of chopped scallions gives the dish an extra brightness, and a handful of small nuts adds crunch and a depth of flavor. In the bottom of the bowl, stirred up by your chopsticks and spoon, are bracing bits of bitter greens.

At the very least, the soup will clear your sinuses of winter's clutter. Or like me you might find that, like Vietnamese pho, it has the power, inexplicable but undeniable, to salve the soul.

(adapted from "What's in a Name" - February 3, 2011)

Joy Luck Buffet
8030 Manchester Road, Brentwood

I'm counting down -- in no particular order -- 100 of my favorite dishes in St. Louis. Some are well-known, others obscure. Some are expensive, others dirt cheap. All of them, I guarantee, are delicious. Please do not hesitate to share your own favorites via the comments thread.


#20: Lamb vindaloo at India Palace

#21: Channa masala at Raj's Rasoi
#22: The blueberry scone at La Dolce Via
#23: Gang kua ped yang at Addie's Thai House
#24: Bánh xèo at Banh Mi So #1 - Saigon Gourmet
#25: Mojarra dorada at Garduño's Mexican Food
#26: "It" at Mammer Jammer
#27: Two eggs over-easy, bacon and hash browns at the Courtesy Diner
#28: Seafood at Farmhaus
#29: The "Edgar Allan Poe" at Dewey's Pizza
#30: The "Heart Stopping BLT" and a chocolate malt at Crown Candy Kitchen

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