Chef Jose David Martinez is on his way to becoming Rockland’s own Danny Bowien.
Bowien, the chef-owner of Mission Chinese Food on the Lower East Side, has become so well known for his inventive reinterpretation of Chinese dishes that lines can stretch around the block. Martinez, too, is putting a bold, exciting spin on Asian food at his new UNoodles Snack Bar, which opened in Haverstraw this spring. There may not be lines to get in, but reservations can be scarce on weekends.
That’s because there isn’t another upscale restaurant in Rockland serving ramen — the trendy, it-dish of the moment — let alone ramen with a complex, tongue-tingling broth and carefully prepared toppings. And the prices, like at Mission, are astonishingly inexpensive. (There’s even a $4 wine-by-the-glass, making it easy for a couple to order a two-course meal with drinks for under $50.)
There are other noodle dishes at UNoodles, too, and the fun, easy-to-love menu also has creative appetizers and entrees. The restaurant is inviting: The casual atmosphere has hints of industrial-cool, with plenty of Haverstraw brick, retro artwork and metal bar shelves that were welded to fit around a vintage car-dealer clock from Rob Benson Chevrolet in upstate New York. (Martinez and his front-of-the-house partner Paulo Feteira discovered it in the building’s basement.)
Feteira sees to it that the staff is friendly and super-accommodating. Bartender Corinne Ferguson puts a big smile on her face to welcome you, and might recommend you start by sharing the panko-breaded yucca hush puppies, crunchy and (maybe a little too) filling with a soft interior, or the little pizzas, served on naan, the Indian flatbread. (We tried the “Crumbs” pizza, which comes with ground beef and breadcrumbs — meatballs, essentially — scattered over a tomato sauce with roasted red peppers and aji, a Peruvian pepper. Nice idea, but the naan can get too charred our our tastes.)
The chicken dumplings, which are light and crispy and not at all doughy, with spicy, grassy flavors of lemongrass and scallions, are our favorite starter. The coleslaw that comes alongside, made with cabbage, jicama, carrots and rice wine vinegar, is not to be minimized: It’s an integral part of the dish that brings a cooling crunch to your palate.
If you go…
UNoodles Snack Bar, 14 Main St., Haverstraw. 845-947-7625, www.unoodles.net.
Hours: Noon-midnight Sunday, Tuesday-Thursday; noon-2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Closed Monday. The kitchen closes earlier than the bar.
Dinner for two (excluding tax, tip and alcohol): $50.