- Alex Springer
I do my best to represent a place and its menu faithfully, but that responsibility comes with a significant caveat lately. This global crisis has profoundly impacted the communities on my beat, and I can't help but take that into consideration when I pay someplace a visit. I've thought about this caveat many times during my visits to local restaurants like Foodie and Sweetie (89 D Street, 385-528-3823, foodieandsweetiedmarket.com) that have decided to close dine-in services as a safety measure while continuing to offer takeout options.
Foodie and Sweetie—a noodle and boba house with a menu inspired by spicy Sichuan broths and savory soup dumplings—is a neighborhood joint through and through. Located in the heart of the Avenues, it's the kind of eatery that thrives on a core group of regulars who stop in for lunch and dinner for the welcoming atmosphere as much as the food. Unfortunately, the pandemic has placed the owners in the difficult spot of closing down their dining room, which has a tendency to throttle small, family-owned restaurants like this one. While I think that slurping noodles and snacking on dim sum in the quaint-but-hip space Foodie and Sweetie has created is the ideal way to enjoy their tasty menu, I'm happy to report that the menu remains soulful and satisfying even from a to-go box.
Borrowing a page or two from the noodle bars of Shanghai, Foodie and Sweetie offers items for every phase of the hunger spectrum. If you're just in the mood for something caffeinated to drink, the selection of boba milk tea ($3.75) and fruity green teas ($3.75) have you covered. The original and matcha flavors of milk tea are excellent representatives of the drink menu; both are packed with the subtle, herbaceous tea flavor. If you're after something small and snackable, check out the pork or veggie pot stickers ($4.99), which are pan-fried and sprinkled with black sesame seeds, or the crispy popcorn chicken ($4.99) that delivers a perfectly crunchy texture.
When I visit Foodie and Sweetie, I like to have one of their noodle or wonton soups as a main course while mixing things up with a few smaller bites. I can't get enough of their Szechuan beef noodle soup ($11.95) or their Szechuan wonton soup ($10.95), so these are usually what I stick with. Acolytes of the Sichuan peppercorn will tell you that you're in for a uniquely spicy ride when you belly up to one of these broths, but if you like things spicy, you can't go wrong. The ferocious red broth is swimming with those magical numbing peppercorns that prep your taste buds for a spicy palette that you feel in your bones.
For something a bit more forgiving on the tongue, the tonkotsu ramen ($11.95) is a Chinese favorite that celebrates the savory wonders of grilled chashu pork marinating in pork broth with a heap of slippery ramen noodles. All the supporting acts are here too—scallions, roasted corn, a spiral fish cake and a hard-boiled egg. It's a hearty bowl full of classic comfort food flavors. I'd also like to note that since I've started getting these dishes to go, Foodie and Sweetie separates the broth from the other ingredients, so everything stays nice and hot on the drive home.
My supporting cast of post-ramen snacks varies quite a bit. Foodie and Sweetie are famous for their sheng jian bao ($6.99), a pan-fried pork bun that feels like a pot sticker that has maxed out its experience levels. The frying process leaves a lovely caramelized layer on the bottom of the soft, chewy pork bun, and it all gives way to a beautifully flavored medallion of ground pork inside. The xia long bao ($6.99), otherwise known as the soup dumpling, is another must-try. Served in adorable aluminum cups, these dumplings are pockets of savory broth surrounding a ground meat filling. It's hard to say which one I like better, which is why I usually snag both—dumplings are my love language.
Another excellent addition to the Foodie and Sweetie snack menu is the dim sum combos. The base combo ($8.99) comes with five classic dim sum bites; shrimp dumplings, sesame balls and steamed pork buns are my usual suspects. If you want to get the ultimate Chinese snack pack, get the combo with an order of pot stickers and spring rolls ($10.99) for a full-fledged festival of finger food.
I hope all of our friends in the hospitality industry who haven't had to close down already can stay afloat until we've sufficiently kicked COVID-19 in the ass, and Foodie and Sweetie is no exception. It's a perfect concept for its spot in a close-knit neighborhood like the Avenues, and I've visualized myself inhaling a bowl of noodle soup with a side of randomly selected dim sum within the homey confines of this corner shop several times as a hopeful vision of things to come.