Friday, June 20, 2008

Noodles and Sympathy

West End and Dupont Dwellers will have to forgive me for stating the obvious, but Larry La's Meiwah deserves the praise both for its food and its service.

Last night three women made their way up New Hampshire Avenue, after a much needed glass of chilled white wine. Determining who had the worst day would surely end in a draw. The time was 10.15, and while there are many wonderful late night purveyors in Dupont (Alberto's and Zorba's, to name a few), D. had her heart set on Meiwah, a quintessential neighborhood restaurant: not trendy or new but but with a varied menu of great dishes simply prepared to showcase the clean bright flavors of its ingredients. As we approached the restaurant I saw that it's cheerful neon was still on and there were still some patrons. As D. reached for the door I saw the schedule, which said that the restaurant closed at 10.30 PM. Having the habit of eating dinner very late, I've gotten used to the "Sorry, Kitchen Closed" routine. I usually keep myself from glaring at the hostess by remembering that the kitchen and wait staff has been at it since 2.00 PM and probably want to cash out and head home. D. and S. asked for a table and I tried to figure out an alternative on the fly.

I was very suprised when they gave us a table. I could see some of the prep cooks out of the corner of my eye, and to my mortification a steadily emptying dinning room. The hostess flipped the sign to closed. We ordered dumplings, an entrée and two vegetable dishes, sharing all of them. The dumplings came out first, their crackled pan-fried skins covering firm and savory meat. The bok choy was as firm as leeks and the mushrooms that topped them, superb in their oyster sauce. The spinach was not waterlogged and the fresh garlic gave it a great kick. Our entrée was Beef Chow Foon, a staple Cantonese dish made up of stir-fried beef, hefen (wide rice noodles) and bean sprouts.

As we ate, our waitress refilled our glasses several times and asked us if everything was alright and if we needed anything else. No one started cleaning up, turned the music off, or made us order everything at once, all (much deserved) punishments to late patrons. We were such a tired looking trio that the wait staff could probably tell that the meal could be the only good part of our soon to be over day, and they took great strides to make sure it was. Tasty as the oyster sauce was, it was their kindness that made the meal truly wonderful.

Meiwah Restaurant
1200 New Hampshire Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20036
Meiwah on Urbanspoon

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