It’s usually a good thing if a bar you like starts serving passable food. It certainly makes nights out easier to manage, allowing lazy people like myself to stay in one place while indulging in all sorts of bacchanalia. I’ve grown to like
No Name Bar (597 Manhattan Ave., Brooklyn, NY) in the recent warmer months because they have a spacious and well-maintained backyard and a good $5 gin and tonic. I was really happy when I saw that they had opened a noodle bar in their basement, but when I returned to eat there I was taken aback by how good the food was. I’m fairly new to Greenpoint, but I’ve come to realize there’s a dearth of good Chinese food in the neighborhood, so this place is sort of a blessing.
A short menu consisting of noodle dishes, soups and sides (two of each if memory serves correct), I think by virtue of splitting things I’ve tried everything there in two meals. On my second trip I had the oxtail soup (which was really good but a little light on noodles for $12). However, my initial meal of lamb noodles stands out as a better value (same price but a good amount left over) and just the all-around better dish.
Similar to the lamb noodles at Xi’an Famous Foods, the name is self-explanatory. It’s a simple concept: ground seasoned lamb and sauce on top of wide noodles. My friend compared the dish at Xi’an to his mom’s chili-mac and it’s not totally off base. I think No Name improves the dish in many ways, making the lamb flavor more pronounced instead of burying it beneath spices. I love Xi’an but I sometimes find they put too much cumin in their lamb to fully appreciate the meat on its own (however, in their well-known lamb burger, the heavy spice works well). No Name has taken a dish I liked quite a bit and has turned it into something that seems to address all of my issues with the original. The noodles are especially dense, and lamb is sweet but still slightly gamey. There’s something fresh and green on top that quickly gets lost in the muck of it all.
The seasonal greens, I assume, are subject to change. What they have going on now is pretty good: heavily-wilted-but-not-entirely-cooked kale (at least I’m 90% sure it’s kale) in a sesame dressing. I enjoy dishes like this but have trouble forming strong opinions about them. It’s kale and sesame, two awesome things that clearly are awesome together.
In the end, a good new choice on the Williamsburg/Greenpoint borderlands, excellent Chinese food and a nice backyard to eat it in.
Chris Tonucci feels some embarrassment when he takes pictures of food, but he’ll do it anyway. He lives in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. He enjoys simple meals, The Replacements and the Heat that stars Burt Reynolds.
Photo credit: Chris Tonucci