First Bite

At Super Bowl's debut, a few fumbles

By Tom Sietsema
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Plenty of restaurants post menus in their front windows to entice customers. Super Bowl Noodle House goes an extra step by displaying more than a dozen of its Asian-inspired dishes behind glass near its entrance.

Actually, the meals are molded plastic. But the various noodles, vegetables and meats are convincing enough to rouse curiosity, if not an appetite. So in we go to see what the real deals taste like.

Good omen No. 1: We're the only Caucasians in the tidy 50-seat storefront, which is cheerful in shades of banana, mango and pumpkin.

Good omen No. 2: The food that's passing us by - wonton dumplings slick with red chili oil, big bowls of steaming soup - looks impressive.

Customers are seated and handed menus, but they have to place their orders at a counter in the back. A slow line gives me a chance to watch a bit of the cooking process through a window and check out the "cold bar" (a refrigerated case) of snacks and side dishes next to the cashier.

The food comes out fast, but I'd prefer more finesse over speed. The "spicy tomato beef" soup is crowded with noodles and bites of meat but lacks much of the advertised heat and sour cabbage. A light yellow curry infuses a plate of shrimp, carrots and potatoes, a combination served with rice that would be better if the vegetables were not undercooked.

Shredded egg, dark mushrooms and slivers of pork lend their weight to a more satisfying noodle soup, however, and those wonton dumplings are juicy with ground chicken inside. Gentle prices for strapping portions make it easier to digest some of the kitchen's flaws.

Super Bowl Noodle House opened in October. According to a manager, Sharon Shen, the owners hope eventually to expand to Columbia and Tysons Corner. Let's hope they first take some time to master more of the menu.

785-G Rockville Pike, Rockville. 301-738-0086. Soups and entrees, $6.59-$7.59.

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