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Restaurant Love Letters: Mee Noodle Shop & Grill
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COMMENTARY

Restaurant Love Letters: Mee Noodle Shop & Grill

In this new column, contributors, readers, fellow chefs, and casual diners share their “Restaurant Love Letters.” It’s our hope that this series highlights the spirit of hospitality, the importance of restaurants and dining culture to our economy, and more critically, to the fabric of our daily lives. This is our way of saying thank you to the industry, we appreciate you, and we’ll be waiting here for you when you get back.

MAY 6, 2020
BY CARLY DEFILIPPO

Working in and around the food industry, especially in New York City, I seldomly settled into a routine long enough to have a “regular” spot. Sure, while I lived there, there were my favorites—the old-school bar that made the ultimate hamburger, the trattoria The New Yorker called the city’s “most perfect restaurant,” and the unassuming bakery whose cookies never truly got their due. But even in those places, I couldn’t really claim to be a regular. The Big Apple was just that—big. And it was my job to know about everything new.

Now that I live almost two thousand miles from New York—a city where I have easily covered that many miles on foot—I can see clearly that there was one exception. It was my late-night, hard-day-at-work, celebration-for-one restaurant in Manhattan—a completely unassuming spot called Mee Noodle Shop & Grill. 

I learned about Mee Noodle from my father, who had previously spent many years renting an apartment in my (then) Midtown East neighborhood. He visited Mee Noodle with such frequency that he called it “My Noodle”—a moniker that felt all too true. As for my Mee Noodle order, it never changed: Cantonese wonton soup, broccoli with garlic, and brown rice. It was enough food for three people, and I never once ate a meal on site. Instead, I’d place my order in person and wait on the street, peering through the fogged-up window while flaming woks flashed like my own personal fireworks. 

What really makes you a regular is arriving at the point where you don’t care for comparison. In a city of countless restaurants, none could replace My Noodle. I didn’t want the newest, the hottest, or the most buzz-worthy. I craved dishes cooked with such consistency that they became a security blanket of comfort food.

These days, living in Denver, I’m still sorting out my regular spots. It’s a city where everyone says hello, and where many people actually remember your name. And while I love that change of pace and newfound friendliness, there will always be something about a dark, steamy New York street where I can walk in complete anonymity. Where a stranger can deliver the most nourishing kind of comfort, without ever knowing what it means to you. 

Mee Noodle Shop & Grill
930 2nd Avenue
New York, NY 10022

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