Noodle World's peaked ceiling brings a googie feel to a pho or chow mein meal.
I love discovering new pockets of the San Gabriel Valley, because it's more like the retro land time forgot than the rest of the L.A. area. Hundreds of perfectly-preserved mid-century buildings line the valley's wide boulevards, completely bypassed by the groovy train. Alhambra's Noodle World isn't one of the more distinguished diner designs around, but at least it has preserved the original Bob's Big Boy statue as a nod to the original tenant.
The high-ceilinged dining room has space age aspirations, and the menu features a vast selection of Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese and Thai noodle dishes of the same approximate quality as the comfort food at Bob's Big Boy. Like the best diners, it's open late (til 1 am) when the platters of slightly greasy noodles and bowls of credible pho seem to make the most sense. Noodle World is like the Farmer's Market of Asian restaurants -- not the best representation of any one cuisine, but where else can you find them all in one spot? My spicy seafood spaghetti (above) didn't hail from any particular country, but the combination of surimi, shrimp, calamari and mussels tossed with a slurry of Sriracha sauce was a pretty good riff on my own pan-Asian spaghetti creation. My son Sam has recently acquired a taste for pho, so he went straight for the rare beef model, while Matt wanted "something like ramen, only without soup," so I steered him to the yakisoba with pan-fried pork and vegetables. You gotta love a menu that has a section called Frozen Monster; Noodle World shares space with a yogurt and boba place that offers a staggering array of slushies, boba, yogurt and shaved ice with Asian-style toppings.
Tip: Save room for a boba drink -- the tapioca balls have the perfect amount of texture and give. This is also a good place for kids, and they serve beer. It's cash only, but there's an ATM inside.
700 West Valley Blvd.