You have to be kind of reckless to have “noodle house” in your restaurant name and serve just one or two dishes which even feature noodles, but it’s a good mentality for Reckless Noodle House co-owners Bryce Sweeney and Mario Eckert.
The new Central District spot (located in The Atlantic’s former digs) is the kind of dimly-lit port town-themed spot where one could while away the hours with one too many cocktails and never enough food.
Also, it has a hot sake dispenser.
The Pan-Asian menu focuses largely on Vietnamese and Laotian food with some Thai elements, but provides enough complexity even in the simpler dishes to entertain the most discerning diners.
Reckless Noodle House’s excellent happy hour menu features a bevy of cocktails for cheap (like the Aviator, featuring Capitol Hill’s Oola Spirits gin with a maraschino and Giffard creme de Violette with lemon) as well as the aforementioned hot sake.
Happy Hour food starts with a caramelized pork fresh roll for $4, offering a slight kick and a delicious Hanoi fish sauce for dipping. The roast duck crispy roll, also $4, is packed with scrambled egg, cabbage, wood ear mushroom, bamboo and that excellent duck. The papaya salad is the real star of the abbreviated bar menu, running just $4 (plus $4 per protein) and featuring shredded, crunchy papaya with bird’s eye chili for a surprisingly chilled spicy flourish.
It is interesting to speak with the owners, who are decidedly not Vietnamese and yet espouse the virtues of Southeast Asian cuisine. Eckert and Sweeney have more than 30 years in the restaurant business and have worked in a kitchen together before in Mammoth Lakes, California.
After rock climbing in Vietnam and enjoying the cuisine and culture, Sweeney found his next restaurant venture.
In the kitchen is Chef Kenny Le, of former Lionhead glory as well as Din Tai Fung.
The opening menu for Reckless Noodle House features quite a few more appetizers and two entrees.
The iron skillet turmeric rockfish is a tender, flaky beauty of a dish, served atop bánh hoi noodles and seasoned with dill, fennel, lemongrass, galangal, chard, coconut cream and a toasted chili lime fish sauce on the side.
With a wok scheduled to be installed, look for quite a few menu additions in coming weeks.