Seattle, WA

Seattle Foodies Discover Ma La Braised Beef Cheek Noodles

Tree Langdon

This cuisine balances five tastes.
Making a spring rollby Tonda Tran/Pixabay

There are five fundamental tastes in Vietnamese cuisine.

Spicy (metal), sour (wood), bitter (fire), salty (water), and sweet (earth).

Each dish has a tendency toward one of these tastes, but all of them are present in some measure.

  • You will find shrimp paste, fish sauce, bean sauce, lemongrass, ginger, and mint as well as long coriander, Saigon cinnamon, lime, and Thai basil leaves.
  •  The culinary skills of a talented Vietnamese chef are admirable because these flavors aren’t masked by heavy oils or dairy.
  • It allows the freshness of the ingredients to shine through.

Vietnamese food prepared using the traditional method of layering flavors to achieve the perfect taste is a culinary art.

This restaurant leans heavily towards Vietnamese dishes and they are spicey in precisely the way the Chef intends to present them.

Welcome to Reckless Noodle House and Cocktails.

It’s an odd little surf shack where the cocktails are delicious and the wallpaper is a weirdly appealing collection of 1000 tiny shark jaws, carefully arranged in rows. It’s a fairly small space so not the venue for a large gathering, but lovely for a group of friends.

It’s a Vietnamese fusion spot in the Central District, and the plates are inspired from all over Southeast Asia, featuring tastes from Vietnam, Cambodia, China, and Thailand.

Chef Kenny Lee builds heat using a carefully balanced selection of spices that surprise and warm the guest.

His best dish is the Ma La Braised Beef Cheek Noodle, an intriguing combination of intense heat and the texture of comfort food.

Reckless aspires to provide an exceptional customer experience which shows in the creative cocktails. The mixologists routinely surprise and delight. The atmosphere is warm and casual.

The homemade ginger beer mules are a delight and pair really well with the starters.

I always like to start with dessert.

Salted Duck Fat Caramels
Another contrast in tastes, this sweet and salty dessert is just the thing to complete your meal. These delicious treats are sprinkled with salt flakes and they create the ideal blend of sticky, soft, and chewy.

Vietnamese Coffee Creme Brulee
Can you imagine anything better than this combination of the best coffee I’ve ever tasted and my favorite dessert? A definite one to try.

Starters and Main Eats

Caramelized Pork Fresh Roll — Thịt Nướng
This gluten-free option features rice paper and it’s full of noodles and delicious caramelized pork. Spiced with lemongrass, pickled daikon, carrot, fresh herbs, and Hanoi fish sauce. 

Roast Duck Crispy Roll- Mù Xū
I’d order this as a starter for the table, just to share. If you love the contrast of fresh lettuce and roasted duck, you’ll enjoy these. They are filled with scrambled eggs, cabbage, wood ear mushroom, carrot, bamboo, and roasted duck. Wrap a lettuce leaf and fresh scallions around the roll, then dunk in the sambal hoisin. 

Papaya Salad
This is a small bite but packed with spice. Hand pounded shredded green papaya, smashed long bean, tomato, bird’s eye chili, lime, dried shrimp, with peanut, fish sauce. It’s a gluten-free option.

Grilled Beef in Betel Leaves- Bò lá lốt
For the beef lover, this features hand-chopped ribeye steak, with banh hoi (fine rice noodles), fresh herbs, pineapple, cucumber, peanut, scallion oil, and toasted chili-lime fish sauce.

Curry Vermicelli Bowl
This vegetarian coconut curry broth, eggplant, green bean, carrot, onion, Yukon gold potatoes, scallion, cilantro. It’s also gluten-free. If you’d prefer, order it with your choice of shrimp, beef, or tofu.

Wok Seared Turmeric Rockfish- Chả Cá Lã Vọng
Rockfish seared, then glazed in a turmeric glaze, with dill, fennel, lemongrass, fresh herbs, and galangal — all over a bed of thin noodles. The toasted chili-lime fish sauce is really good. This is also a gluten-free option.

Ma La Braised Beef Cheek Noodle
This is the Chef’s special dish, a piece of tender, braised beef cheek on resh wheat noodles in a Sichuan sauce. It’s a combination of the texture of comfort food with a searing heat.

Reckless Fried Rice
Try the golden turmeric-coconut fried rice with the unusual ingredient of cubed pastrami. It includes a fried egg, scrambled egg and basil, chili jam, and fresh cucumber to cool it down. This is another one to try.

Five Spice Duck Soup
This slow-cooked duck confit combines roast duck broth, black vinegar, thick wheat noodles, Sichuan numbing oil, sour mustard greens, and goji berries. It comes with turmeric coconut rice, baby bok choy, and braised shiitake mushrooms. 

A meal at Reckless Noodle House is thoroughly enjoyable.

Location: 2519 S Jackson St., Seattle, WA, 98144 in the Central District between International and Leschi Neighborhoods.

Hours: Daily from 4 to 9 pm Sunday, 
Tuesday through Thursday 4 to 10 pm, and 4 to 12 am Friday and Saturday. 
We are open for dine-in, take-out, and cocktails. Happy from 4 to 5 pm daily.

206–329–5499 |

“Please use the “Grab a Table” button or call ahead of time to be added to the waitlist for dining. With all the covid restrictions we can only accept parties of six people or less, without having to separate into 2 tables. We do kindly ask guests to limit their dining time to an hour and a half give or take since our capacity is severely limited at the moment.” Reckless Noodle House

Sources: The Infatuation, The Reckless Noodle House 

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A merchant of dreams. ♡ I love to connect humanity to technology. I write news, and fiction, exploring Worldview plots. Was a CGA/CPA in a past life. I have a lot of life experience. Parenting, Art, Finance, Investing, Auditing, Project Management, Writing, Story Grid Method, Science, Forensic Anthropology, Extensive overseas travel including Asia, Greece, Thailand.

Seattle, WA

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