Rochjin -- east village Thai fish ball soup
New York Magazine had a blurb in this week's issue about Rochjin Asian Noodle (92 3rd Ave, near 12th St), a Thai-run fish ball soup place in the east village. Since it's close to my work, I walked over there today for lunch. The menu is small, consisting primarily of fish ball-related appetizers, such as the delicious deep fried fish balls we tried, and fish ball soups. There are three main types, one of which is Tom Yum, but I decided to try number one, the classic, since the picture looked so much like street stall fish ball soup in Thailand. You get a choice of four different rice or egg noodles.
It came out in a very large bowl. After a few slurps and bites, my reaction was that the soup was bland, the rice noodles were slightly overcooked, and the fish balls, fried fish balls and fried fish cakes were amazing. They make the fish balls from scratch using yellowtail snapper. On discovering that I thought the soup was bland, the waitress brought out the standard Thai seasoning quadrumvirate of dried red pepper, green pepper sauce, fish sauce and sugar. She apologized, but she said they thought that most of the clientele wouldn't want the soup to be too spicy. She also said that the overcooked noodles were a conscious choice, and said that the next time I came in I could ask ahead of time for them to be less cooked.
It would be great if Chowhounds checked this place out and made their wishes for authenticity known to the proprietors.
Just got back from Rochjin (if you go on a weekend, ask for Joanne...)
a few things:
1. the fish balls are gefilte fish! funny how culture travels.
2. it's SUPPOSED to be bland. If you want spicy stuff, ask for the other broth, similar to tum yum.
3. Also, ask for the spaghetti spicy.
4. make sure you drink the hot ginger juice!