If any good comes from closing your business so a developer can do its thing, it’s the chance for an operator to rethink his brand. Just ask Sak Pollert. He’s the owner of DC Noodles, which closed in July 2012 in anticipation of the nine-story mix of residences and retail stores called Louis at 14th. The restaurateur’s Asian draw reopened just after Thanksgiving this year.
The cartoon mural that used to greet diners as they entered DC Noodles? It’s been painted over. Meanwhile, some whimsical new art reveals Pollert’s inner Martha Stewart. What appear to be a flock of black birds near the entrance are actually clusters of metal candle holders; five little rock climbers ascending a rear wall turn out to be sculptures picked up in Thailand.
DC Noodles also got bigger in the transition. Pollert closed his adjoining boutique and transformed the 600-square-foot space into a 28-seat dining room. Dig the acid-washed steel tables inside.
Dig (some of) the food, too. Of the fresh ideas on the still-brief menu, I particularly like the steamed buns stuffed with spiced beef and moistened with wasabi cream, a nice interplay of soft textures and hot flavors. The pork buns, in contrast, prove dry. A noodle soup based on a rousing ginger broth, with beef and rice vermicelli in the mix, warmed up a recent cold day.
Hangers-on from the original menu, executed by chef Ztang Ruangsangwatana, include decent chicken satay, flaky pumpkin empanadas and gently zesty Burmese curry noodles bolstered with a choice of meat, chicken, seafood or tofu. (Avoid the option of tired shrimp.)
Neighbors can enjoy DC Noodles from the comfort of home: As before, the restaurant delivers daily, from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., with a minimum $17 purchase.
1412 U St. NW. 202-232-8424. dcnoodles.com. Dinner entrees, $12 to $17.