If you were to ask me the kinds of foods I recommend to my coworkers when they are looking for lunch, I’d almost immediately identify a burger or pizza that I want people to check out, as it is what I assume most people are interested in. However, if I’ve learned anything about myself in the year-and-a-half I’ve spent penning this column for FEAST, it is that when I’m out looking for something to eat by myself, more often than not I’m on the search for noodles -- long strands of chewy pasta floating in all manners of broth, topped with tender sections of meat and crisp vegetables.
On this seemingly never-ending search, I tend to find myself driving up and down Olive Boulevard looking for new places to eat, or old favorites that I haven’t visited in awhile. The area is ripe for discovery: locations off the beaten path and sometimes gritty. Ground zero for folks addicted to the slurping of noodles.
A favorite haunt of mine on Olive is LuLu Seafood & Dim Sum, where you’ll find an extensive menu of soups and hot pots, a diverse collection that requires the better part of a month’s worth of lunches to completely explore (some fantastic, others forgettable), starting with a noodle soup with roasted sections of duck and shoots of bok choy.
The bowl itself is a nest of thin egg noodles in chicken broth, similar in flavor and mouthfeel (round, salty -- in a word, made with MSG) to a classic wonton soup. On its own, it reminds me of a bowl of ramen that can be made at home with a good stock and fresh noodles from an Asian grocery -- tasty, but not Earth-shattering. Instead, the kicker of this dish is a leg and thigh section of roasted duck that ride on top -- bird complete with a crisp, lacquered skin that offers up a satisfying crunch when bitten.
The water fowl is sectioned with a cleaver in the kitchen, leaving small sections of bone in each piece to grasp with chopsticks. The idea is to hold a section, and peel away duck, fat and skin with your teeth, leaving only bone behind. Another plan of attack is to shred meat from their bones and stir it into the broth with your chopsticks, allowing you to get a combination of chewy noodle, tender duck and bitter green in each bite. Either method is acceptable, although you risk losing some of that decadent duck skin by submerging it in broth; so, my recommendation is to reserve a bit of it off to the side, to snack on between slurps of this simple, yet delicious noodle dish.
LuLu Seafood & Dim Sum, 8224 Olive Blvd., University City, 314.997.3108, luluseafoodrestaurant.com
Tired of reheating last night's dinner for lunch? Every Monday, food writer Andrew Mark Veety guides you to some of the best midday meals in the St. Louis region, with great places to bring clients or enjoy an outing with your co-workers. Missed one of his columns? Check them out here.
Catch Andrew on the air every Tuesday at 1:25pm on the Big 550 KTRS' Martin Kilcoyne Show, where he continues the conversation on his weekly lunch picks!
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