September 25, 2006 | Insatiable Critic

Je’Bon Noodle House

        Bare-bones plain, cheap, and earnest, Je’Bon Noodle House seems oblivious to our town’s bold new world of pulsating Asian eateries-on-steroids. Here it’s all about noodles, fabulous Chinese noodles—original ribbons and twistings, oddly delicious. Expecting not much at all on this funky stretch of St. Marks Place, I am instantly taken to a pleasure zone by Cantonese “silver needles”—pleasantly gummy little spears of dough tossed with roast pork, chicken, tiny shrimp, and strips of egg. Delicate fish purée piped through a pastry tube into simmering broth becomes noodles: the house’s own creation (the menu claims) and a luscious nest for shrimp, clams, chicken, mushrooms, and a slice of mild fish pâté. Even usually perfunctory beef lo mein impresses; the large scallops of beef are juicy and clearly freshly cooked. That’s remarkable fuss for the price: $3 and $4 starters and entrées from $7 to $12. Given chef Chi Wah Lee’s many years cooking in Japan, it’s no surprise that the kichinabe—pork dumplings caramelized in an iron pan—are a triumph. There are satays, too, skewers from the grill, steamed pork buns, splendidly chewy spare ribs, Thai and Malaysian favorites among the noodles. The owners who planted this concept to lure NYU students are still waiting for that liquor license. So consider this a gourmand alert. Je’Bon is definitely worth a trek through the tacky.

15 St. Marks Pl. nr. Second Ave. 212 388 1313

Cafe Fiorello