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|December 25-31, 2008
• Appetite for celebration
Delectable party noshes for the holidays
by Amy Culbertson
The cat’s meow
Fat Cat serves up top-notch noodles at skinny prices
by Clay Fong
With a name like the Fat Cat Noodle House, you might envision an eatery where plutocrats slurp down ample dishes of pasta while nefariously plotting how best to exploit the proletariat. You’d be half right in making this assessment of the Hill restaurant bearing that name, as it does serve up goodly portions of Asian noodles. But the patrons are far less likely to be rich Uncle Pennybags than CU students on a budget, and the moderate prices reflect the needs of this clientele. While not quite as inexpensive as a-slice-and-a-soda pizza parlor, Fat Cat offers up filling entrées and noodle bowls averaging around $7 apiece.
Meeting my colleague Tom for lunch at this lively spot, I was struck by the comfortable décor, accented by a sophisticated mix of restful light green shades and bamboo. Similarly, the menu offerings were unpretentious and simple with a few surprising flourishes.
For example, while many dishes are available with the expected chicken, beef and tofu, seldom-seen duck is also an option.
Although the menu doesn’t focus on a particular subset of Asian cuisine, it does provide something for just about everyone. Vegans can enjoy the miso hot pot, and both herbivores and omnivores can tuck into a variety of teriyaki plates ranging from one containing tofu for $6.50 to $9.95 for the beef version. Connoisseurs of Southeast Asian fare can content themselves with a piquant Thai Jungle curry or Vietnamese pho, the one-dish meal beef noodle soup. Beverages include a commendable assortment of beer and sake, and in addition to the usual soft drinks, there’s a refreshing house-made ginger lemonade.
Fat Cat’s appetizers come from all over Asia. A hot bowl of miso might be the ticket on a cold day, while sashimi might be another’s preferred protein-laden starter. A tip of the hat to my love of dim sum, I ordered the $4.50 Chinese shrimp dumplings, also known as siu mai. The wrappers were thicker than usual, and I could have done without the creamy yet mildly peppery sauce that doused these dumplings. On the plus side, the flavor was close to what you’d find in a specialty dim sum house.
For a main lunch course, Tom had a brimming bowl of $6.95 peanut noodles with chicken. The peanut sauce wasn’t overly spicy, and a hint of sesame enhanced this dish’s flavor. Tom appreciated the toothsome qualities of the thick noodles, and while this dish wasn’t a soup, a fair amount of liquid in the bowl kept things moist.
My $6.95 uncomplicated yet savory dragon noodle soup featured chicken as the main ingredient rather than its namesake mythical reptile. One guesses that the dragon moniker comes from the spice of the chili and ginger broth, although like Tom’s choice, the heat level makes for a pleasant tingle rather than a painful burn. The poultry appeared to be mostly thigh meat, and while it’s known as an economical cut, it’s also one of my favorites with respect to tenderness and flavor.
While Fat Cat may not be a showcase spot for best-in-class Asian fare, it’s still a spot worthy of consideration for satisfying street-style food. Happily, the prices reflect the fact that you don’t need to live up to this eatery’s name to afford a pleasing experience.
Clay’s obscurity corner
In Chinese culture, longevity noodles are a dish fraught with meaning. Typically served at New Year’s, but also at birthday and post-funeral banquets, they are made of thick egg noodles. Like most Chinese funeral fare, sau mein is bland in flavor, and often accompanied by nothing more than a simple soup. The kicker, though, is that biting or cutting the noodle is associated with the negative consequence of truncating one’s own lifespan. It’s better to try and swallow the pasta whole, although I thought I was going to choke to death on the occasions I attempted to adhere to tradition.
Fat Cat Noodle House
1116 13th St.,
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