Monday, November 19, 2012

Picture Yourself at Yummy Noodles

The first thing I notice when I walk into Yummy Noodles and Grill in Stanwood is -- well, I can't quite decide. Is it the yellow formica top booths and tables with red and yellow chairs in the brightly lit restaurant, reminding me of my childhood? Or maybe it's the warmth from the fragrance of Asian foods wafting from behind the counter. Perhaps it's the people who sit at the tables now, chatting over their meal. Yes, I notice all of these. But what really draws me in are the hundreds of snapshots spread across most of the wall space of the shop and are even displayed on the windows and ceiling.

Running out of wall space!
They've got pictures on the ceiling too.

They have been snapping pictures of customers since the shop opened about 6 years ago.

I study the walls and find folks smiling back at me from the pictures at my table. Everyone looks happy. And who wouldn't be at a place that serves delicious food -- everything is homemade, down to the soups and sauces -- and staff that thinks of their customers as family?

Steven and Jenny

Jenny Dang's large Vietnamese family came to the US 30 years ago and settled in Seattle. Her sister Alexis found this building for lease and knew it would be the perfect place to open a noodle shop, far from the city's busyness and great number of Asian restaurants. She operated the shop herself until she had a brain aneurism a could of years ago. So Jenny stepped in to help out. She not only manages the restaurant, she also cooks and creates the sauces that live up to the shop's name, Yummy.

I asked her if the commute from Seattle is a problem. No, she doesn't mind the commute, she said. She likes the local people of Stanwood/Camano. They make the trip worth the drive.

Last week when we were there Tom got a lesson in how to eat one of their dishes -- grilled chicken vermicilli. Steven, who works the counter and serves the meals, brought Tom's order, a red square plate with noodles and grilled chicken on one side and a lovely green salad on the other. After he'd eaten, Steven stopped by to chat with him.

He was pleased that Tom had enjoyed his meal -- it means a lot to him to have people like the food. What did Tom think of the homemade fish sauce? He liked it a lot, Tom told him, and he used it on his salad.

Oh, but that isn't salad, Steven said. It is intended to be merged with the noodles and chicken and mixed all together, with the fish sauce added in to suit one's taste. I just serve it that, Steven said, because it seems to be what Americans prefer.

Steven told Tom about a trip he made to Vietnam several years ago. As he sat at a restaurant table he noticed a large number of children hovering nearby. The children's eyes were trained on the plates of the customers; if there was any food left on a plate when a customer got up to leave, the kids would swoop in and grab it. "That really broke my heart," he said, "so I invited them all in and bought them a meal, which was very inexpensive in Vietnam."

Are you on the wall at Yummy Noodles? Tom and I are. It took a couple of visits to find ourselves, but there we are, on the wall under the counter, in the second row from the bottom, smiling along with the rest of the crowd. Just a part of the family!


Cami said...

We've never been in, but your post sure makes me want to go eat there sometime soon!

Ginger Kauffman said...

Maybe this can go on your 40 things by 40 list, Cami!