noodle

As someone who fancies authentic Chinese cuisine form the SGV, I don’t know how I ended up here. Maybe it was the intrigue, or the feeling of homesickness. Ultimately, I just wanted something completely different. I really don’t remember the last time I ate Chinese food or even a bowl of noodles in Vegas, if ever even. It’s always burger this or pizza that, and don’t even get me stated on the number of steakhouses. I took a chance on Noodles at the Bellagio, and I was pleasantly surprised. The prices were definitely not SGV cheap — the “Vegas Tax” essay evident. In the end, I was happy for my changing up the system.

After the Raku agedashi experience, I find myself ordering more and more. As an appetizer, and to be somewhat earthy, we decided to order the agedashi tofu. Theirs were fired in little nugget forms. The texture was quite nice. The warm pockets of hot tofu were silky smooth. Dipping it in the light soy sauce blend was all I needed. Nothing beats the agedashi at Raku, but this little appetizer did just fine.

Comfort food for me is either something really fatty and cheesy, like mac and cheese or a nice loaded quesadilla. Otherwise, comfort food comes in soup form. It has to have meat inside of course. The wanton soup at Noodles was surprisingly delicious. The broth was the star. I wasn’t sure if it had MSG in it or not, but the deliciousness of the broth indicates that it indeed did. The broth was warm, umamic (yes, there’s that word again), and quite savory. It wasn’t necessarily salty, but it had a nice quality to it. The wontons were nothing short of spectacular. Fatty and meaty, the shui mai like dumplings gave this soup bowl some substance. Even the noodles had a nice bite to them. This bowl of wantons and noodles was surprisingly the real deal.

We were on a protein frenzy, so we ordered the BBQ pork and duck. This to me was a mistake. The pork was overly sweet and jerky like. Too much crust and not enough actual tender meat made it difficult to enjoy. The duck, though nicely tender was a bit of a miss. It didn’t have that fatty/salty characteristic I’m familiar with duck. It was mild and a bit boring.


We ordered a bowl of congee to go with our meat. The congee itself was good on it own. The bland taste and blank canvas made it go well with everything. This was indeed a comforting bowl. For dessert, we ordered Thai tea. Milky, and somewhat strong, it was enjoyable — nothing worth mentioning further though.

All this Asian food and I started to wonder why we ate here. I mean, I could have this back home in the SGV, and it would be legit — it would be the good stuff. Why did I just spend almost double the amount for something that wouldn’t even hold a candle to the good stuff? Maybe I was feeling a little home sick. Or maybe I just needed to give it a try to see if I can really find SGV in the heart of Vegas. For a second though, I did forget I was even seconds away from the casino floor. That’s gotta count for something. Basically, I went to Vegas to step away from the SGV, and went to Bellagio’s Noodle to step away from Vegas.

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It has been a while since I wrote a blog post on Orange County eats. Not that I don’t have love for the OC, its just not exciting to eat here anymore. All of the restaurants are too chain like. Except for a small few, all of the eateries are just average. To me, the most exciting thing is when restaurants far away make it close by to me. One such restaurant, a chain nonetheless is Santouka Ramen. With restaurants all around the world, I am happy to have them in LA and Orange County. I don’t have to travel to Japan to have good ramen.

The bowl of ramen was better than most. I appreciated the al dente noodles and the texture of the alkaline noodles at Santouka was perfect. It had a nice bounce and bite feel. The broth was a bit lukewarm, but still tasted amazing. My favorite of course was the char sui pork. It was fatty and deliciously tender. The vegetables were fresh and the bowl of ramen as a whole was balanced. This was a great bowl of ramen and competes with the best of them.

To some, ramen at a restaurant is foreign to them. All they know is the stuff that comes in a package or a cup. Ramen to me is comfort food. The warm broth and the fried noodles turned half pliable is all that I need on a cold winter night. Ramen broth and noodles is such a hard thing to perfect, especially from scratch. I wouldn’t know the first thing about creating the broth. Yes, having ramen from a bag or cup is quite satisfying and delicious. Just pop in a soft boiled egg and you are golden. Once you experience good ramen with legitimate broth, it makes all the difference.

Santouka Ramen on Urbanspoon

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No. 1 Noodle House – A Trip to a Noodle Shop

by Franklin on March 19, 2012

I was scared to eat at this joint. Hidden between some chicken place and corner store, I was a bit intrigued. Once I entered the place, I was transported into a new world. The small front counter to my front and a dark alley way to my right leading to the dining area was all unexpected. The restaurant dining area, which seemed to have been shared with others was scattered with random stuffed animal claw machines. I put all the weird behind me as I was excited to try the noodle, the “#1″ noodle. I proceeded to order.

I ordered the dan dan noodle, their most popular item on the menu. The sauce was similar to a peanut sauce. The minced meat on top was delicious as it was tender and flavorful. The green onions gave it a nice robustness and the peanutes gave it a nice crunch. This dish was new to me, and I liked it. The noodles were nicely cooked, not over done. The bowl was a bit small though, so I ordered a meat dish.

The sliced pork was interesting. The pork meat, which I assume was boiled, was cut waffer thin. Sitting atop a mound of sprouts, it was topped with chili oil, hoisin, scallions, and peanuts. The whole dish was tasty, but I couldn’t get over hot cold the pork was, as it was intended to be served that way. Nonetheless, it was still tasty with my noodle dish.

Their beef noodle soup was very hearty and delicious. The beef was amazing — eating it off the bone was a great experience. The broth was a bit spicy and a little sour. It was perfect for a cold day with a sore throat. Fatty from the beef, a nice layer of bright red grease sat atop the bowl. The noodles were cooked nicely in this dish and the addition of spinach finished it off perfectly. This was a great soup based noodle dish.

Yeah, I was scared of this place for a bit, and probably still might be. The cooking is old school and the spot is very grungy. The dining area, though remodeled some what, seemed out of place. Oddly, all that didn’t matter. The food was as authentic as it could be. That’s all that matters I guess from a Number 1 noodle restaurant.

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Thai Patio – Night Time Chow At Thai Town

by Franklin on December 13, 2011

Where else can you get authentic Thai cuisine other than in Thai Town.  Located near Hollywood, Thai Town in Los Angeles offers some great food.  Thai Patio had some really well prepared Thai food.  Something about the spices in Thai food keeps me wanting more.  This restaurant does it perfectly.  The live music and open dining area is very inviting.  Those in seek of a hip night life and good Thai food can appreciate this place.

We ordered the crab fried rice.  I am absolutely in love with crab fried rice, especially this one restuarant near CSUF. Thai Patio’s, though good wasn’t as good as the one in Fullerton.   It wasn’t seafood like enough for me.

Though the crab fried rice was just normal, the grilled beef was amazing.  The taste was like no other.  It was a bit sweet and so very tender.  At first, I thought it would be on the tough side.  However they prepared it, it was a perfect texture. I liked the bbq marks that was on the beef.  It gave it a nice char flavor.  and whatever spices they use on these, it was delicious.

Their chicken Pad see Ew was by far my favorite.  It is quite possible that they have the best.  The noodles were thick and chewy — al dente. It wasn’t mushy at all.  The sauce and fresh vegetables brought the whole dish together.  Definately, the texture of the noodles is what makes this dish.  If I didn’t know any better, I’d think they made their noodles in house from scratch.

Thai Patio was authentic.  Maybe it was all in the name, or the fact that it was in Thai Town.  All of the food in Koreatown isn’t always good, so it can’t be the location.  It must be the food.  Everything was delicious, and they give you a lot of it. Asking for to go boxes is a must after your meal, because you will have left overs.  Next time, I would like to try more of the exotic (heavily spiced) dishes.

Thai Patio on Urbanspoon

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This cafe was a new addition to the Atlantic Times Square shopping center.  The food here is very casual, as is the atmosphere.  The inside was very clean (something you don’t see everyday in Chinese restaurants in Monterey Park).  They had flat screens everywhere which was good for days my Los Angeles Lakers play.  Prices for entrees are really affordable and it is always a relaxing time here.  The icing on top is that they offer a free drink with every entree.  That is a great deal!

My favorite thing here is their chow mein.  Do you like chow mein?  Do you prefer the thick kind or thin kind?  I prefer the thin kind and Cafe Express does it wonderfully.  Something simple as chow mein was so delicious here.  It didn’t even have meat in it — just soy sauce chow mein.  Grabbing some with my chopsticks and eating it plain was a treat. This dish is simple as it gets, and as good as it gets.

I also tried the squash casserole.  It was a great vegetarian dish, as it had nicely cooked squash and mushrooms.  Squash is something I don’t eat often, but this time around seemed like a good time.  It was very hearty, though not my favorite of the bunch.  This vegetarian meal calls for some meat, thought I didn’t get any this time.  As you know, I am a carnivore at heart.

My go to meat dish would be their calamari.  It is so good, and the best there is.  It seems to me that restaurants take on the calamari differently.  Some fry the rings, some fry calamari nuggets,  but this place uses real squid.  The batter is very light.  My favorite is the spicy salt they sprinkle on these fried morsels.  The dish was so flavorful.

Eating at Cafe Xpress is always great.  Clean environment, good cheap food, and lots to choose from makes this place stand out from the rest.  I guess that’s the beauty about eating at cafe’s because they offer so much variety.  Despite having lots to choose from, I will stick with my chow mein and calamari.  Eating good food, watching the Los Angeles Dodgers, cheering for my Lakers, all in the comfort of Cafe Xpress.  That is the good life.

Cafe Xpress on Urbanspoon

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Noodle Planet – Easy Noodles, Easy

by Franklin on March 3, 2011

Everyone has their go to sushi restaurant or Chinese restaurant — I certainly have a go to Pho restaurant whether I am in Los Angeles, or Orange County.  Sometimes, choosing a place to eat isn’t that easy.  We all do the “narrowing down” game, and realize we are in the mood for Asian food, but can never narrow it down to one.  This is where Noodle Planet comes in.  They offer a variety of Asian dishes, ranging from Vietnamese, Chinese, to Japan and Korean.

I am so fortunate to have one nearby.  My family and I ordered a lot of stuff we haven’t tried — We already know the spicy spaghetti and pad see ew were good.  We ordered chicken wings, crispy chow mein, and fried rice.  Yes, they do have rice dishes at Noodle Planet.  We also threw in an order of pad see ew and egg rolls just in case our new trials failed.  Luckily, everything tasted great.  The crispy chow mein was kind of difficult to eat at first, but once the seafood mixture softened up the noodles a bit, it was delicious — the texture was something I have never had before.  The egg rolls we ordered were like no other.  Normally, the egg rolls at restaurants are filled with cabbage, or heavily ground beef based — these, on the other hand had a meaty texture, but also had some sort of seafood taste to them — this was a good thing.  As usual, the chicken wings were great, especially with the addition of the fried rice — I must say, I am a sucker for marinated fried chicken and rice.

My conclusion?  This place is good for groups — you can choose from almost any Asian noodle dish.  Its cheap (cash only) and they have big portions.  The quality of the food is great for the price and you are always left satisfied.  They have locations in Monterey Park and West Los Angeles.  Looks like they got Eastern and Western Angelinos covered.

Noodle Planet on Urbanspoon

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