Fast Times

Getting Addicted to the Infernal Curry Chicken at Jenni's Noodle House

Monday nights are generally the most challenging at my house when it comes to dinner. We love to kick off our week with a meal prepared by someone else, but restaurants love to close on Mondays. Last week was an absolute nightmare of circumstances -- deadlines, illnesses, thrown-out backs, presentations and the impending arrival of out-of-town guests. My husband was sick, which generally dictates Asian food in some form or fashion ("Salt-plus-fat-plus-noodles-equals-wellness," he explained), and his choice was Jenni's Noodle House. I was all in, and we headed over to the South Shepherd-at-Alabama location.

The idea was to order an outrageous amount of food, eat as much as we could and as quickly as we could, then get home before his double dose of Nyquil kicked in. We also wanted an obnoxious amount of leftovers so he could have a few days' worth of lunches to take to work. From the look on the guy's face who took our order, we succeeded on the "obnoxious amount of food" front -- our order came to almost $50 for just the two of us.

On the menu that night: Chicken Disco Dumplings ($6), Tofu Style Vermicelli Salad ($7), Pho (to-go, $8), Infernal Curry Chicken (my entrée, $10) and Super Duper Fried Rice (his entrée, $11). We each gave the pho a quick taste, but we brought it home to pack for lunches throughout the week. We shared the dumplings and vermicelli salad, but played selfish with our own entrées. The dumplings came out within minutes, and the rest just five minutes after that, so have no doubt that Jenni's Noodle House qualifies for "fast times" food.

I was already pretty obsessed with the dumplings at Jenni's. They are big and hearty, and come in this incredibly flavorful sweet-and-sour-and-hot broth that I find really addictive. Josh opted for the fried dumplings, but I have to say that in general I prefer steamed. When it comes to Jenni's dumplings you really can't lose, though, and I was happy enough to steal a third dumpling for myself while Josh concentrated on the vermicelli salad.

I liked the salad well enough, especially the pickled onions, but once I got a bite of the Infernal Curry Chicken, I was in heaven. The menu warns "addicts beware," and it's a fair warning. I couldn't stop eating spoonful after spoonful of the flavorful curry broth that includes a heavy dose of lime leaf; it's that bright lime flavor that makes this dish so completely addictive. The broth itself is quite light, which is great because you can crush bite after bite after bite of the chicken, potatoes and rice, and still have room for a few (dozen) sips of broth at the end. After eating so much food before the curry, I didn't think I would eat the whole dish...but I did. The coconut milk created a slippery texture that coated the chicken, and the fragrant jasmine rice pulled all of the flavors together. I'm really not sure I'll ever be able to order another dish at Jenni's again -- the Infernal Curry is that good.

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Christina Uticone