Yesterday, I went to the Roundeye Noodle Bar pop-up at Matyson. Having already experienced the Khyberkaya pop-up at the Khyber Pass Pub, I figured there would be a wait, and that it might be a bit of a shit-show. But a friend who knows Roundeye creators Ben Puchowitz and Shawn Darragh was less concerned. So we rolled over about 5:45 p.m. with a party of five–and were promptly informed there would be a two-and-a-half-hour wait.
We wound up cooling our jets at Dandelion where we enjoyed complimentary fizzy waters, cask beers and one truly great Fullers Bengal Lancer.
After seeing tweets that Roundeye was out of ramen, we headed back to Matyson around 8 p.m. The tweets were true: They were turning people away and a sign on the door read “Thank you for the support! Look for another pop-up in a few months.” Was it true? Would we really be turned away with nothing in our bowls? Having totally sold out in under four hours, we wondered if this was a case of “intentional scarcity” or just further proof that Philadelphia is DYING for ramen.
A server who recognized someone in our party (not me) checked with the kitchen again. Word came that there was enough for four bowls of duck pho. We sent word back that we’d happily share the four bowls five ways.
In a matter of minutes the soups appeared in front of us–not four bowls but five–and the slurping began. The tangy broth was spot-on. The meaty duck leg, perfect. The foie gras dumplings were plump and divine. I quickly decided I wanted these dumplings daily. One day in broth, fried the next day. And on their own would work too. Noodles were slurped. Broth ran down my chin. Rather than pause to wipe my face, I let the dribble drop back in the bowl. Excellent I thought. Now I’ll have another chance to drink it in.
After devouring the second dumpling and lifting the bowl to my lips, downing the last gulps of soup, I finally paused. That was great and we were lucky to get a chance at it.
As the kitchen and waitstaff wound down, the tally was announced: 220 bowls of ramen were served, and in just four hours. That’s almost a bowl a minute. So maybe this wasn’t a case of deliberately shorting the public. As Puchowitz pointed out, there’s only so much space you can take from a running restaurant.
So, obviously, they are on to something. And with the duck pho I had last night and the raves I heard for the Smoked Lobster Ramen Bowl served on last week’s lobster tasting menu, I hope they find a restaurant space pronto.
Otherwise I’ll just have to get to the next pop-up earlier.
Roundeye Noodle Bar [Official Site]