|In the Bowl Vegetarian Noodle Bistro, Brief Review|
|Overall||Service||Food Quality||Atmosphere||Vegan Options|
|Location: 1554 E Olive Way Seattle, WA 98102|
|Recommended Dish: Angel Curry|
|Hours: Mon – Sun 12:00 pm – 9:30 pm
||Times Visited: 1|
The Stumptown Vegans Travel!
In the memory of my meal at In The Bowl Vegetarian Noodle Bistro, I keep adding foggy windows into this popular little restaurant in Seattle’s Capital Hill district. The water refills were flying, the take-out orders were clearly a way of life in the neighborhood, the frantically productive kitchen took up at least 1/3 of the open restaurant, and the front door rarely stayed shut with the comings and goings of new clientèle. The foggy windows? A figment of my imagination, but they sure do fit on a cool, winter evening. The hustle and bustle? A fingers-crossed indication that my visit was going to be worthwhile.
I was fortunate to be seated at the last open table within moments of my arrival. It was right by the busy front door, but thanks to my forthcoming meal and hot tea, nothing was bothersome. Taking up nearly half the small two-person table was the overwhelming, double-sided, lengthy menu. It had all the standard Thai restaurant selections you’d expect and more: Japanese noodle dishes, numerous appetizers, and elaborate sounding specials. I must have flipped it over four times before bypassing a coconut and vegetable studded special for the Angel Curry ($7.95) from the curry section. From the sounds of the various descriptions, it seemed like all curry pastes were homemade – always a welcome sight for vegetarians and vegans.
After the suspenseful, green tea- sipping ($1.50 for a small pot with a tea bag) wait, that approached twenty minutes, my meal arrived. The meal consisted of a small bowl of curry, and a big serving of cooked, thin rice noodles, both presented together on a large plate. The curry was utterly flavorful. It had a powerful, mildly spiced (by request) yellow curry based broth with a bit of coconut milk. The vegetables were lightly cooked and held that freshness that’s often lost, or cooked away, in curries. There was bok choy, green beans, carrots, mushroom, green cabbage, pineapple, broccoli florets, and large cubes of the freshest, softest tofu I’d sampled in what seems like years. It still held its shape, yet, it was just so fresh and moist in the curry. There was also an option of fried tofu, faux beef, faux chicken, faux prawns, and faux duck for this dish. I had tofu on my mind, and did not ask about the vegan specifics of the soy protein additions. Please leave a comment if you know more.
How to eat it was a bit curious. Do you put the noodles in the bowl, or vice versa? I decided on the second option of spooning the curry over the noodles. It seemed the most logistical move for maneuvering the saucey curry vs. noodles situation with my serving spoon and chopsticks. No matter, the Angel Curry with soft tofu was just one of the best meals I’ve had this year, and there isn’t a thing about it I would change.
The best part of the customer service at In The Bowl was the consistent water refills. The staff never stopped cycling the room, taking orders, filling waters, moving meals, and so forth. This speed was also something to accept as part of the experience, and atmosphere. Your meal is coming, just don’t expect friendly, hand-holding service on its way. I swear, my waitress was across the room after asking what type of rice I wanted. I quickly specified rice noodles, which were actually listed with the dish on the menu.
Bringing up the water again, I noticed that I wasn’t at the only table where it was quickly refilled and placed on the complete opposite end of the table as the customers. I’m not offended, it’s still on the same table, but the haste is apparent. That being said, frequent water refills and a steaming bowl of curry or spicy soup undeniably go together. My bill followed with an offer of a to-go box and a surprise, complimentary cup of semi-pleasantly plain soy and black rice pudding.
I think the brief, yet, functional customer service is part of the experience at It the Bowl. Sometimes it’s okay to be disconnected with your food and company (or alone)!
And for a bowl of housemade curry that vitalizing, I would deal with something that actually annoyed me.
Complimentary Soy Pudding with my bill