I’d found my way to Rose’s when I first landed in North Carolina back in September and beginning to explore the foodie terrain of the Triangle. Needless to say, I’d been captivated by the notion of Rose’s Meat Market and Sweet Shop — a fascinating blend of boucherie and patisserie — so I was slightly disappointed when I found out it’d been converted over the summer just before I arrived.
Apparently, the meat market had been eliminated and replaced with an Asian fusion eatery, so the new name was actually Rose’s Noodles, Dumplings, and Sweets. Thankfully, the sweet shop remained and — to be utterly transparent — sugar drives my daily existence, so I wasn’t too devastated, especially when I looked up to see the chalkboard covered with ice cream sandwich options. Priorities are priorities.
After my solo adventure last fall, I decided to wander back recently with friends in tow. This time, the group adventure allowed for more items to be sampled, which always makes for a memorable excursion. We arrived a bit before the noon hour, which I’d recommend since the space is fairly small and there’s not much room to wait inside. Thankfully, there’s a fencing club next door, so entertainment isn’t far if waiting is necessary.
Two of us arrived first and got seated at a high top. Breakfast items were imminently unavailable, but our server said she could get word to the kitchen if I wanted something badly, so I raced to order the breakfast rice porridge ($10) before I got shut out. Our other friend arrived at the same time as the hot porridge (which many call congee or jook), so we all got to sample before putting in the rest of our order.
Like my mom’s, the porridge itself was a lovely consistency — not too watery, not too thick — and served as a nice foil to the saltiness of the Chinese bacon and the spiciness of the chili flakes. The greens were a new add for me, but it made the dish seem ever so slightly healthier. The preparation was so artistic that I honestly hesitated to mix things up for fear of ruining the picture.
One friend ordered the house shan-xi noodles ($13) with the spicy sesame sauce and found that it came with a pretty nice kick. The noodles themselves were extra long, so it may be best to come to Rose’s with friends you’re comfortable making a mess with. That or I suppose you could ask for a knife. Either works as the space is conducive to small groups of three to four, twosomes, or solo diners. Anything more than that may make for a tight fit.
Another friend picked the burnt miso ramen ($14) that came with pork jowl. Her assessment was that the broth could’ve been more flavorful, which isn’t surprising, especially since ingredients like burnt miso and pork jowl come with some serious expectations. That said, the umami was definitely there, even if the burnt miso flavor could’ve come through more.
For some additional protein, I went with one of the specials of the day — a spicy dish of chicken livers and nuggets ($12-$14). We laughed when the dish showed up and the server kindly advised us to avoid the one chili pepper but also the other chili pepper, with the message being quite clear: DO NOT EAT any visible chili peppers. Thank you, kind server, because our palates found the dish quite spicy without them. My palate also found the dish quite salty, but I tend to be somewhat particular about my salt levels.
My fondest memory of my first visit was the ridiculously ginormous ice cream sandwich I’d taken with me to go and devoured in a few short blocks. So despite my full stomach, I couldn’t resist ordering another sandwich at the end of this meal. This time, I decided on the lemongrass ice cream with the gingersnaps ($5-$6). If you decide to order one, know that it’ll take a few minutes to warm up, as these sandwiches come straight from the freezer to your table.
As I waited for my sandwich to thaw out just a bit, I could feel my excitement rise. Structurally, the ratio of ice cream to cookie is clearly meant to appeal to ice cream lovers. The volume of ice cream is really what gives this sandwich its heft. While the graham crackers are square and sizeable, they’re not remotely thick. In fact, they’re just thick enough so that they don’t easily break apart as your teeth sink through this phenomenal sandwich. To top off the experience, the sugar crystals on the gingersnaps provide a bit of crunch.
If you’re looking to be surrounded by the smells of sugar and spice, definitely make your way to Rose’s. And definitely make sure to pick up your share of pastries before you leave — even if you have to store them in your freezer (ahem). If you’re still wondering about the meat market, the restaurant actually hosts monthly whole hog butchery classes that you can sign up for, so there’s no need to miss out on meats *or* sweets