Saturday, April 11, 2009

Cilantro and the Noodle Man

Dinner on Wednesday night found me at Cilantro, a tiny Vietnamese restaurant in Clifton serving up big bowls of tasty soup. Will and I ate at the counter, pivoting on our stools and drinking diet coke from styrofoam cups.

We were, as all diners at Cilantro are, eating in the shadow of the Noodle Man. His portrait hangs below a row of lights and above a row of hot sauce bottles. His expression is peaceful, eyes closed, arms spread wide, like he's perpetually waiting for a big, noodle-y hug that never comes.

I considered ordering a stir-fry, but Will nixed that idea. Soup is the only way to go at Cilantro. He may be right. My veggie egg roll was greasy and unremarkable, the kind of egg roll that comes out of a bag of pre-constructed, frozen egg rolls.

Expectations sinking, I dove into my Sate with tofu. A rich, warm broth. Plenty of rice noodles. A nice kick from the lime supplied on the side, crunchy bean sprouts and a nice dose of cilantro, naturally. Was it my lowered expectations that made the soup so heavenly? Or was it the Noodle Man, doing his job, overseeing a tiny, bustling kitchen churning out delicious soups? I'm not sure.

I'll be back, ready for more noodles, and I'll skip the appetizers next time I'm at Cilantro. This could be the start of a wonderful friendship, Noodle Man.

Cilantro Vietnamese Bistro on Urbanspoon