Joe's Noodle House

Chinese
$$$$ ($15-$24)
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Editorial Review

By Tom Sietsema
Washington Post Magazine
Sunday, October 19, 2003

There's no longer a Joe at this spare storefront Chinese restaurant-but there are still plenty of noodles. Some are thick and white, like the "drunken" rice noodles topped with crumbled beef and crisp slivers of green bell pepper; others are thin and glassy, like the ones in a big bowl of soup blazing with red chilies and teeming with soft pieces of fish. These and hundreds of other dishes can be yours if you order from a counter in the rear, take a number sign to your table and wait for the goods to be delivered whenever they happen to be ready (if entrees arrive before appetizers, well, so it goes). Regulars pick up a paper menu at the front door and make their decisions before getting to the cashier-hostess; they know they can't miss with peanuts tossed with teensy fried baby smelt, pleasantly chewy baby conch laced with basil, squid matched with tangy cabbage and pungent garlic, or delectable, head-on "salty and crispy" shrimp. Ah, but then there are all the specials posted behind the counter, too! Of course they'll want to add a plate of hot and sour fish to their order. Vegetable lo mein is a bit oily, and the Chinese beer is served too warm. But here's a sign that you've come to the right place: The Tawainese native who generously shared his table with a friend and me during a weekend lunch rush told us, "This food reminds me of home."