Ever since I became a recovering vegetarian, I’ve felt more gustatorially adventurous, more willing to try new and exotic flavors. When I was eschewing chewing meat, one veggie-friendly dish that was particularly hard to find was a bowl of pho, the iconic Vietnamese dish of rice noodles, star anise-infused beef broth and different cuts of beef.
Which is why I am so happy that Ben Puchowitz, the chef/partner at Matyson, waited until now to open his new spot, Cheu Noodle Bar, at 255 S. 10th Street (between Locust and Spruce Streets in Washington Square West), where he is now serving the aptly named Jewish Pho, a hearty combination of noodles, brisket and, of course, a matzah ball.
Puchowitz, a Cheltenham native, learned about Jewish foods from his dad, who owned a gourmet deli and butcher located at what is now the current Matyson location. “My dad makes awesome matzah balls,” Puchowitz said. And the knaidlach doesn't seem to fall far from the ladle — Puchowitz fils makes one mean matzah ball. His brisket is sweet and sour (also like his dad’s), using vinegar, ginger, brown sugar and gets a Korean kick from gochujang, that cuisine's ubiquitous brick-red chili paste. The brisket is paired with fresh noodles, a sous-vide egg and greens.
"Food is about your past," Puchowitz proudly conveyed. "When you eat something that makes you think about when you were a child, that’s special!” I couldn’t agree more.
Cheu Noodle is small, with an open kitchen, but the modern, red interior evokes a sense of cool. Puchowitz credits the design elemnts to his older sibling, the glass artist Zach Puchowitz, for some real Philadelphia Brotherly Love.
Thanks to Puchowitz, I will now be craving his Jewish Pho and plan to grab a seat at his noodle bar during my next lunch break.
To New Food with Old Memories,
The Bubbi Project