Item Purchased: Buddhist Delight Lunch Special from Joy Yee Noodles
Location Purchased: Joy Yee’s Noodles / 1335 S. Halsted St. / Chicago, IL
Price: $6.50 + tax
Review: My initial response, had I been duped into believing otherwise, would be to complain about the extreme load of fungus in this meal. Knowing that Buddhists are strict vegetarians, however, I expected there to be a healthy amount of fungal growth mixed in with my tofu, rice, other veggies and delicious brown broth. It’s not that I don’t like the taste of mushrooms. I really don’t mind. It is the idea and texture of mushrooms that bothers me so. I can’t get over the squish-snap experience of biting down on a cooked mushroom. Furthermore, I can’t get out of my head that I am eating a fungus. I know that most of what I eat on a day to day basis is comprised of numerous more disgusting and mysterious elements (Yellow-5 for example) but the thought of eating a picked and cleaned mushroom still brings images of licking a patch of athlete’s foot from a sweaty soccer player’s little toe. I know it is disgusting, but that’s the way I am.
My dislike of mushrooms tends to annoy friends and acquaintances when it comes time to order a pizza, but in all honesty, I don’t mind picking shrooms from any dish. This is exactly what the first half of my lunch break consisted of.
After filling the emptied styrofoam bowl that my miso soup came in with several samples of two different kinds of mushrooms, I was left with a collection of bok choy, celery slivers, spongy fried tofu and a syrupy brown broth with which to cover the white rice that comes along with this Joy Yee lunch combo. Each and every ingredient tasted fresh and juicy, which is the norm for a dish from Joy Yee. The broth tasted slightly like a beef broth, but I am guessing it is made from soy to fit with the Buddhist theme of this meal. Unlike most other pan-Asian restaurants, Joy Yee does not load their broth with excess salt or soy sauce. Instead, they perform a certain kitchen alchemy that results in a flavorful meal one is not soon to forget.
Between the hours of 11:00 AM and 3:30 PM, lunch specials such as this dish sell for only $6.50 and come with a side of miso soup with small cubes of soft tofu floating in it. Again, the soup is not the salted water broth most people have come to expect, but a tangy spiced soup that only adds to the value of the meal. If you happen to be in the University Village area of Chicago during lunch time, give Joy Yee a try. They have everything the original location in Chinatown offers on their menu and are quick to boot.
Rating: 4 / 5