What: The Wok-Fried Noodles With Chicken
Where: Watercress Vietnamese Bistro, 415 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs
How much: $11 as a lunch special; $14 as a dinner entrée
Contact: 760-832-9927; watercressvietnamesebistro.com (site currently only mentions Redlands location)
Why: It’s fresh and tasty.
Regular readers of these Indy Endorsements know that I am not all that impressed with the Asian food on offer here in the Coachella Valley.
Yes, there are some great Thai restaurants. But as for good Chinese food … it’s veeeery hard to find here in the desert.
A couple of years ago, the same thing could have been said about Vietnamese fare in the Coachella Valley. However, that’s changed in recent years, thanks to the valley-wide expansion of Pho Vu, Chad Gardner’s game-raising purchase and revamp of Pho 533—and now the buzz-generating Palm Springs debut of Redlands favorite Watercress Vietnamese Bistro, which recently took over the building last occupied by Serious Food and Drink (R.I.P.).
On a recent lunchtime visit to Watercress, we instantly learned that this little restaurant is clearly doing something right: There was a wait for an inside table. On a Wednesday. In July. Wow. Alas, soon after that, we also learned that Watercress—as is often the case with new restaurants—is still working out the figurative kinks: We waited more than a half-hour between the delivery of our lunch-special soup and the arrival of two of our three entrées. The third entrée followed about another 10 minutes later. Oops.
However, in my case, the food was worth the wait: My wok-fried noodles (flat rice noodles, in this case) with chicken were delicious. The vegetables—crisp bok choy, still-crunchy carrots, onions, peppers, baby corn and shiitake mushrooms—were perfectly prepared, while the chicken was moist and flavorful. All of it was brought together by a savory brown sauce. One food-related nitpick: The noodles were a bit congealed and mushy—but that didn’t stop me from gobbling it all up with glee.
The valley’s Vietnamese food scene has definitely received a boost, thanks to Watercress. Now, about the Chinese food scene …