To hell with the breakfast burrito—I want breakfast soup from now on.
I know, I know: sacrilege.
But the congee at Mu Du Noodles’ Sunday brunch is sumptuous enough to make me lie in print about giving up the tortilla-wrapped goodness for good. It’s like a plate of migas crashed into a bowl of miso in a display case full of fine spices and landed in a gift basket of Asian delicacies.
I've given serious thought to kidnapping chef and owner Mu Jing Lau and holding her in a dark basement somewhere until she coughs up the recipe. On the one hand, turning to crime seems excessive. On the other hand, I can't be waiting around for
11 am on Sundays for more congee.
Brunch at Mu Du Noodles has been rolling since May of this year. A lot of people call it dim sum, but Mu calls it ATSDSS. That's not something that requires Ritalin for treatment but, rather, Asian Tapas Served Dim Sum Style. The dishes are not necessarily traditional dim sum dishes, which I suppose makes them tapas, but they are offered to customers at the table instead of at the bar, which I suppose makes them dim sum.
These are technicalities that do not concern me.
I am, however, deeply concerned with an octopus quiche, assembled with eggs and shallots and served up in a sauce made from its own ink. I make it my business to pay close attention to perfectly cooked Brussels sprouts nestled in a little sex sling of bacon. I am sure many people would agree that one cannot allow miniature omelets slathered in duck au jus to simply pass on by without careful examination.
Typically, approximately 15 different kinds of dim sum-ish tapas are created each Sunday. It's true they are likely to be Asian—pan-Asian in the broadest possible sense: Mu fears no ingredient or style—but they may not be. On a recent visit, I was offered a no-frills chicken confit, for example. On any given Sunday, Mu is likely to plunder inspiration from India, Japan, Korea, Thailand, China, Bali and Portugal, and that's just for openers. There are no borders that will not be crossed, and frequently they are ignored in the same dish: a beef tenderloin taco, for example, dressed with a vinegary Korean chipotle.
Normally, there is some kind of equity between meat and vegetarian dishes but, in chillier weather, Mu can go a little meat-crazy. It sucks if you're a vegetarian, but is a lusty little mouth orgy if you're not. Last time out, chicken feet were on the menu—a bolder and better affair altogether than the "wings" with which America is largely enamored, but not something for dainty or shy eaters. They could have been served with a warm, moist towel, as I believe I still have some of the tasty, sticky sauce stuck in the crevices of my fingers, but one doesn't get pissy when one is served straight-up dinosaur parts.
My only other complaint is the speed at which plates are sometimes removed, especially the sauces. I know that spicy Asian pear vinaigrette was for the pork belly, dammit, but maybe I want to dip my BBQ bau in it too. But, of course, a restaurant only has so many plates and I can sympathize with the urgency.
A few nights after last brunching at Mu Du Noodles, I had the good fortune to stumble into a deliriously satisfying cotes du boeuf at the newly reopened 315. As is sometimes the case, owner Louis Moskow was on hand and, as is sometimes the case, he found a soapbox. In this instance, it was the notion that one must chef for the pleasure of it and that denigrating cooking to the status of a job is criminal. His chefs were clearly enjoying themselves, but I thought, also, of Mu, and of how much pure pleasure is served on every Sunday plate.
Dim Sum: 11 am-2 pm Sunday
1494 Cerrillos Road