Cheap Eats 2007: Joe’s Noodle House

You can look at the menu and the placards with specials on the wall at this hopping Szechuan eatery that takes no reservations and has lines trailing out the door. But the trick is to talk owner-cashier Audrey Jan into revealing what’s marvelous and fresh. You might end up with crunchy green stems of Chinese watercress, a savory hash of pork, bean curd, and Chinese leek stems, calamari with tart pickled peppers and Chinese celery, or the oddly named Triple Delight, really a fiery chili-oil-slicked stew with beef, chicken, or shrimp.

Another approach is to see what the Chinese families are eating. It often involves a big tureen of soup, like one of delicately fashioned wontons in a pool of eye-watering red hot sauce. Familiar dishes are done well, too. Cold sesame noodles, made with sesame paste and oil (rather than peanut butter, as in Westernized versions), are a wonder of light, clear flavors.

Joe’s has the feel of an old-time Chinatown restaurant and the ring of authenticity—crowded tables, lazy Susans, happy chaos.

Open daily for lunch and dinner.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.