647 253 8000 | $12-16 Bowls
Having already reviewed (and enjoyed) Daisho, it was only natural that I stop in to Noodle Bar to sample what continues to draw lines of folks outside the Shangri-La hotel.
We ended up waiting about 20 minutes on a Friday - not bad - and got to sample a few things off the menu. I won’t call this a complete review since we just didn’t try a lot, so consider this a mini-review.
If you do any review reading about this place so far, you’ll start to see a consensus: ‘I came here with exceedingly high expectations, ordered the ramen, wasn’t blown away, and came away disappointed’. I’m not gonna argue with everyone, so I decided to sample some of the other menu elements.
The menu itself is pretty small with some buns (or baos), bowls, and extras. Since I’m a complete sucker for these fluffy steamed buns, that’s where I started.
We went the chicken versions (above), and thankfully they were some of the best I’ve ever had. I’d say they stack up well with Baohaus in NYC and those served at Chang’s Ssam Bar and Noodle Bar NYC. The texture is beautiful and fluffy, the chicken flavourful, and the crackling a special textural contrast. I’d highly recommend these.
Next up were the ginger scallion noodles (above), topped with shiitakes, cabbage, cucumber and a ton of scallions. A really clean, fresh, flavourful bowl for sure with noodles curled underneath. My friend really enjoyed it, but was hoping for broth of some kind to add another layer of flavour. Thankfully, the squirt bottle of awesome hot sauce was nearby.
My lunch main was the kimchi stew bowl with pork shoulder and rice cakes (above). I really enjoyed this dish with a bunch of hot sauce added to give it some spice. Match that spice with some of the sharpness from the kimchi and piece of tender shredded pork shoulder, and you’ve got a giant bowl of home.
Service and Ambience
I’ve already commented on the design of the three-storey edifice in another review, so I’ll describe the organized chaos you’re likely to walk into during weekday lunch. Almost all seating is communal, so be ready to rub elbows at the long wooden tables and bar. There’s some seating upstairs in Nikai while you’re waiting, but it’s not serving until dinner hour unfortunately.
As for service, I’d call it friendly and mostly efficient. They try to turn the tables quite quickly given the lunch rush, so you’ll get your food easily within 10-15 minutes. Our server did forget the beer we ordered, but small slips like that are likely to occur every now and then given the speed and noise level in the room.
Go to Sansotei or Kinton if killer ramen is your hankering. I know it’s called Noodle Bar, and everyone expects mind-blowing ramen, but I encourage you to check out some of the other options on this menu. I did, and I’ll definitely be back to check out a few more. I hope you do the same. Cheers.
Posted by: Jacob, Visited Oct 19, 2012