Second Helping: Bones

I haven't totally fallen for Lou's Food Bar, which I review this week, and my initial lust for Green Russell has ebbed, at least temporarily. But from my initial meal at Bones, which Frank Bonanno opened in December 2008, it was love at first bite, and my fondness for the restaurant continues.

I first ate at Bones, a tiny spot tucked into the corner between Bonanno's Luca D'Italia and Mizuna, shortly after it opened, and I've returned frequently ever since, always nabbing a seat at the bar so that I can watch the chefs working harmoniously over simmering pots and baskets of noodles.

I always start a meal at Bones the same way: with a tiny dish of glossy shishito peppers, flash-fried, lightly salted and mildly bittersweet. When I stopped in recently, I supplemented that with an order of the steamed pork buns, thick cuts of fat-laced pork belly, doused in hoisin and stuffed into a folded soft, puffy bun. I like all the apps here, from the pork buns to the glistening, roasted bone marrow and the crispy egg rolls stuffed with duck sausage.

But the noodles are the real reason I keep coming back to Bones. I'd long been faithful to the lobster ramen, curly noodles bathed in a sweet broth -- thickened luxuriously with butter, and swimming with fat edamame and rosy chunks of the shellfish, perfectly poached. But I recently switched my loyalties to the pork udon, because I love the fat chewy noodles, the hearty soup tinged with the flavor of plummy hoisin sauce, the chunks of tender braised pork shoulder, the sprinkle of scallions and the yolky poached egg, floating on the surface of the dish. And when I ordered this dish last week, it was as lovely as always.

Bonanno's new spots may still have some kinks to work out, but Bones continues to work off a very firm foundation.

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