Eat This Now: Singapore Noodles with Chinese BBQ Pork at The Bento Box


[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

First, I have to get something out of the way: The Bento Box in Bucktown no longer serves bento boxes. It certainly used to, but as the the extremely gracious waitress explained, chef Rick Spiros felt like the predetermined spaces no longer corresponded to the food he wanted to cook, something that becomes perfectly clear when the platter of Singapore Noodles with Chinese BBQ Pork ($21) hit my table.

What's that you say? $21 for a plate of noodles?! I'll admit that the price initially seemed exorbitant, especially when I could get the same in Chinatown for far, far less. But once I grasped the shear size of the platter, it became clear that this was really an entree for two. So while I would never call the dish cheap, it isn't a gouge-your-eyes-and-take-your-money job either.

More importantly, these are some of the slinkiest and bounciest noodles I've tried in town. Each one is distinct, never once clumping together in some tangled mess. Instead of a blanket of sauce, they are dressed in chili oil, garlic, and scallions. Subtle and mysterious, each bite ends up tasting better than the one before. That said, it takes no time to appreciate the glory of the hunks of barbecue pork, which are completely over the top in the best ways. Bites alternate between the crispy, crunchy skin and the luscious and fat-streaked tender meat.

Visiting The Bento Box may require all kinds of qualifications and explanations, but enjoying these noodles is, fortunately, a carefree experience.