Photos By: Ann Watt

Noodle Bars Fried Calamari

Getting lost in Soho deserves a great discovery: the Noodle Bar LES (as in 'Lower East Side') at 172 Orchard Street, the newest eatery opened by partners Connie Yu and Nicky Dawda. If you've already devoured their goodies in the West Village: you have a rewarding reason to go East and start ordering everything on the fresher-than-fresh menu. Whether it's Thai-inspired Indian/Chinese/Japanese or the other way around, each dish gets high points on the taste and innovation scale. The 'Small Plates' -- aka starters -- make an entire meal. The Fried Calamari is toasty and crunchy with a peppercorn crust, served with a lip-smaking wasabi/horseradish dipping sauce on a bed of greens that have been so lightly dressed that you can still taste each leaf. The Pan Fried Dumplings are so specially cooked that there's no grease: you can actually taste every ingredient in the pork-and-chive filling, drizzled with ginger sauce. Okay, you've had spring rolls a gazillion times, but this Taro Spring Roll is filled with shrimp and crab meat accompanied by a sweet chili sauce in a taro wrap instead of the usual deep-fried whatever. Incidentally, they make their own ingredients, so the chili paste used in every dish is homemade daily. Can't take the heat? You might avoid my particular favorite: the mysterious eastern Tom Yum Bouillabaisse with seafood in a hot and sour broth with rice vermicelli noodles that will almost blow your socks off. The picture perfect Pad Thai comes with either beef, chicken, shrimp or veggies and is worth seconds. But the Thai Basil Fried Rice with eggs, tomatoes, Chinese broccoli and onions (plus your meat/fish of choice), is worth thirds. For those on a low-carb regime, the Cucumber, Sweet Cashews & Bell pepper salad is a crunchy delight and the Calamari Salad with ginger balsamic sauce is almost slimming -- in fact on opening night, Greta Blackburn, Editor of MS. FITNESS and her man-of-the-moment were practically licking the plate. Although the Noodle Bar is on a limited menu for this first week in biz, you can get the full blown menu in just a few days. They do not have a liquor license but will offer a complimentary beer or wine with certain orders over a certain amount. Meanwhile, kick back and drink a jasmine infused green tea on the red leather banquet that rounds an interior corner under the big screen that plays old black-and-white Asian flicks accompanied by fusion music -- and wait it out! Call 212-228-9833 and they'll deliver with a $10 minimum order. Or get their early and avoid what will soon be a long, long line!