On their website, Noodle Bar proclaims to offer diners “something special.” If a drafty interior with cramped tables and spare seating is what they consider to be “something special,” then surely they’ve delivered.
It’s not all that bad, I swear, but it’s not all that great either.
We got there just in time, before the mad rush for dinner set in. I could feel the patrons slowly approaching Noodle Bar as I waited for MDP outside, but kept calm–there were still several tables available within. But then I noticed that Noodle Bar only accepts cash for payment, so MDP and I scoured Bleecker Street for an ATM location, finally found one and hurried back to Noodle Bar before the popular (read: dreaded) 7 o’clock time rolled around.
Once we sat down, we dove into the menu, carefully reading each dish and its description. Noodle Bar has quite an extensive menu, with Wok-fired dishes, traditional noodles, broth noodles and rice entrees to offer.
We quickly reviewed the “small plates” aka appetizers and selected the kimchee pancakes and sesame chicken wings to start.
You can probably tell from the picture that the kimchee pancakes were abundantly fried. By “abundantly” I mean “more so than necessary.” The fry was all I could taste. I’m not even sure kimchee was in these pancakes. Of course, MDP enjoyed them, because he’ll eat anything fried, but I was disappointed by this dish. The sesame chicken wings didn’t please me either. Flavorless (but for the garnish on top) and sticky, the wings were edible, but I can’t say much more about them.
For my entree, I ordered the Singapore noodles with chicken. A hot, steaming bowl of rich, red coconut-curry broth with Udon noodles was presented to me, with an egg floating in the upper hemisphere of the bowl. I wasn’t quite sure why they included an egg with this dish–are eggs popular in Singapore?–but I handed it off to MDP for his dining pleasure. Complex in flavor, the deep red curry broth was outstanding. I drank all of it, and left a great deal of my Udon behind. (But I ate all the chicken and tofu that came with the dish.) I quite enjoyed the Singapore noodles, and I think you would too if you like slightly spicy broth. The other contender for dinner was the BBQ Pork & Crispy Vegetable Wonton broth noodles, but I think I made the correct choice.
MPD ordered the Mee Goreng noodles, which is egg noodles with shrimp, tomato, bean sprouts, fried tofu and his beloved potato. (MDP loves potatoes! I can make them in any fashion and he’ll eat them, but then again, he’ll eat just about anything I make, which is nice.) I tried a forkful, since I was having trouble with the chop sticks, and it tasted pretty good. MDP seemed to enjoy them, as he cleaned the plate, so I’d recommend that.
Because it took about 10 minutes for someone to take our order, we figured it would take just as long to get change from the waitress, so we left a generous tip. It’s funny how that happens, isn’t it? Terrible service should not equal extra cash, but we only had a five instead of a few singles to leave behind.
All in all, I’d recommend Noodle Bar to someone who wanted a quick fix of pan-Asian noodle selections. In addition to the West Village outlet, there’s another Noodle Bar down on the Lower East Side, I believe. That one may have a better seating situation, and it may truly deliver “something special” to its diners.
26 Carmine Street (just off Bleecker)
West Village, New York
Take the A/B/C/D/E/F/M to West Fourth Street. Walk south on Sixth Avenue, turn right onto Carmine Street and cross Bleecker. It will be on the left.