Munch goes to Noodlehead in Shadyside

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Here we are again. November.

It seems like summer was just yesterday, but now we're being inundated with advertisements featuring music composed exclusively of bells and pretty ladies holding elaborately wrapped packages.

Soon we will all have to pack our cars with dogs and kids and the obligatory elaborately wrapped packages and drive to our parents' or in-laws' houses and listen to that one uncle talk about what a shame it is that Barack Obama is still the president.

It gets dark at 5 o'clock. It is terrible.

The only thing that redeems this time of year is the comfort that comes from eating soup.

Shortly after we flipped back the clocks, Munch was looking for a new place for spicy noodle soup.

You see, one of Munch's favorite places for spicy Thai noodle dishes -- Pusadee's Garden in Lawrenceville -- closes for a family vacation from the end of November to sometime in January or February, right when Munch needs it most.

Fortunately, the same family that owns Pusadee's recently opened Noodlehead in Shadyside.

It's kind of like a pared-down Pusadee's -- the menu contains only 10 noodle dishes and five appetizers.

Munch called on Dear One of Munch, Marathoner Friend of Munch and New Runner Friend of Munch to sample what would hopefully be a new panacea for the winter blues.

We were all starving, so we started with the pork belly steamed buns ($6) and the garlic-nam pla chicken wings ($5.50).

The pork belly came wrapped in delicious chewy buns, and the wings were perfectly crispy and spicy. In addition to the appetizers, Noodlehead features two $6 noodle bowls and suggests diners "try one for a snack, one of each for a meal" on the menu.

We skipped those and each got a $9 noodle bowl.

MFOM and DOOM went for the Green Curry Linguine with arctic clams.

NRFOM opted for Street Noodle No. 2, a dish Pusadee's regulars will recognize: thin egg noodles, tempura shrimp, bok choy and cilantro.

Munch decided on the Chiang Mai Curry: egg noodles, chicken, pickled mustard greens, crispy shallots and yellow curry coconut milk sauce. Again, this was similar to one of Munch's favorites from Pusadee's, kao soi noodles.

Noodlehead operates on a heat index of 1 to 5, with 1 being "a lil spicier," 4 "Thai hot" and 5 "crazy."

Munch and Friends of Munch are all fans of spicy food, but we weren't quite ready to go crazy. Munch, DOOM and MFOM went for level 4, and NRFOM stuck to a 3.

When our noodles arrived, Munch knew this would be the new place for spicy noodles on a cold winter's night.

DOOM and MFOM raved about the green curry linguine, with DOOM noting that the noodles were al dente, how DOOM likes them. Munch's curry warmed Munch to the very core, and NRFOM's street noodles were topped with darling little tempura battered shrimp.

Munch thought the 4 spice level was pretty manageable and will probably get crazy next time, especially once the temperature starts routinely dropping below 30 degrees overnight.

Munch's only criticism of the dishes is that they were all a little light on the veggies, and DOOM noted the clams weren't substantial enough protein to be fully satiating.

We asked about dessert, and the waiter directed us next door to Oh Yeah! Ice Cream & Coffee.

After digging up enough cash to pay the bill (Noodlehead doesn't accept credit cards), we decided it was warm enough for ice cream and sauntered next door.

Munch isn't thrilled about the return of cold weather, but at least Munch knows there's a BYOB sanctuary of warm light, minimalist decor and delicious, spicy noodles right in Shadyside.



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