Obao Noodles & BBQ - Midtown East

OBAO Noodles & BBQ – Midtown East

In all fairness, it’s been a minute since I’ve been to OBAO. It was a cold day, as I recall. But luckily this place was incredibly close to my office, so when I sprinted in through the snow or sleet and found myself in a cramped, warm bustling space, I was glad for the comfort. I was with a co-worker who seemed like he might be the Norm of this particular noodle joint, as familiar as he was with the staff. And with only about 10 minutes until our next meeting, I had my doubts that this restaurant could hustle me up some grub without making me completely late.

But, as it turns out, I was wrong. And I don’t know if he got special treatment as a frequent flyer, but we ordered and before I could even pull out my wallet, lunch was run out, placed in our chapped hands and we were on our way. Which made me wonder what exactly, OBAO stands for? A quick Google only brings up listings of this business. So perhaps it’s just a made up word? Or an acronym? Order Before All Order? Only Buns And Orzo? Open BBQ Allowed Once? Operation Beans At Onset? Whatever the case, the vaguely Asian fusion approach that the place takes doesn’t kind of lean one way or another — or really tip its hand as to what its mysterious moniker means.

Instead they let their food do the talking. My swiftly served box of Pad Kee Mao lived up to the warm, hearty and spicy promise of my co-worker. I feel like he even fake picked up the check (meaning he billed it back to the agency). I’d say all in all, I got a pretty darned tasty plate of food for free. With enough good spice and heat to make it worthwhile. So in that whole theory that you can only get two of the three of good, fast and cheap, I found the day where that turns out to be a false choice. I got all three with no downside. Small victories these days. Small victories.

222 E 53rd St. (bet 3rd and 2nd Ave.)