Yoga Fuel: Cucumber Salad at Nit Noi

After reading Geri's "Top 5 Vegetarian-Friendly Restaurants" -- and after a particularly heinous week full of cheese, meat, booze and refined carbs -- I have been anxious to get my veggie on.

Out and about meeting with clients and running errands, I found myself disembarking the light rail at the McGowan station, hungry and looking to refuel before my evening yoga class. I wandered, enjoying the sunshine, until I spotted Nit Noi.

I was tempted by words on the menu like "crispy" and "stir-fried" and "curry," but I behaved myself and ordered a cup of Hot and Sour soup ($2.95) and a Cucumber Salad ($5.95).

The soup came out immediately, and it was piping hot. The Nit Noi version is different from the Hot & Sour soup I've always ordered with my Chinese take-out: This was a sort of hybrid of that broth-y, spicy tofu concoction and traditional Chicken Noodle soup. Big chunks of chicken and celery, plus rectangles of tofu and rice vermicelli noodles, give the soup lots of body. I really enjoyed how dominant the sour flavors were, too. I want a huge bowl of this the next time I'm sick. (For the record, the "cup" is about a cereal bowl portion, twice what I was expecting.)

And I have to give big, big love to the big, big Cucumber Salad. I'm not sure the photo really does this dish justice. It's huge. It also has the added benefit of being fun to eat, with cucumber and carrot "noodles" that you can wind around your fork like spaghetti. Garnished with diced Roma tomatoes and a generous sprinkling of crushed peanuts, this salad is dressed with traditional flavors of lime, rice wine vinegar and cilantro, with a hint of sugary sweetness. I finished about two-thirds of the dish before I had to throw in the towel.

If I hadn't ordered the soup, I think I could have gone the distance, but I was stuffed. I love this salad for pre- or post-yoga satisfaction, but I also think this would make a great salad for two people to split before moving on to the heavier side of the entrée menu.

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Christina Uticone