On the first sunny day after a seemingly endless spell of rain, my mother and I delivered a batch of homemade fish soup to Grandpa and set off in pursuit of our own fishy treats -- I chose OBAO. Being that it was sunny and unseasonably warm, we weren't really in the mood for noodle soup, which is the OBAO specialty. However, the menu has a sizable selection of vermicelli noodle dishes, which made for perfect warm weather food.
The restaurant occupies a long, narrow space on 53rd street between 2nd and 3rd; the front room is more casual, and you can watch the chefs prepare your meal in the open kitchen. The back room, where we sat, is a little quieter and it looks upon a back garden which seems to have a fire pit in the center. The menu offers a wide selection of proteins in various categories: soup noodles, wok noodles, vermicelli noodles, bbq, and salads. The beverage menu has some really interesting choices, including preserved plum soda and a jackfruit shake, as well as a nice beer selection. We ordered vermicelli noodles with shrimp and an order with flank steak, as well as some crispy spring rolls and a couple of iced black teas.
The food was good, but not transcendent. My shrimp was really well seasoned, and it came with a nice cucumber salad with scallions and peanuts. The little bowl of lime dressing didn't have as much flavor as I wanted, and I would have enjoyed a thicker sauce to coat the noodles -- drenching my dish in Sriracha helped the situation but also compromised the flavor of the shrimp. I enjoyed the meal, but I probably should have gone on a colder day, because the Mekong Fisherman soup and the Malay's Char Kway Teow (wok noodles with shrimp, oyster, and chili) sound excellent.