Monday, May 04, 2009

Noodle World takes a space age trip to Asia

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.
Noodle World
700 West Valley Blvd.


Anjali said...

Noodle World! My college boyfriend used to live right down the street, so we would go here almost weekly. I was always a fan of the chicken curry, the mint leaf chicken and the Thai shaved ice.

oddlyme said...

I love Noodle World! And I havn't been there in FAR too long.

Their fresh spring rolls are tasty, as is their duck yakisoba, but my fav thrill is their chicken with chilies and mint - they serve it with an egg that has been cracked DIRECTLY into the deep fryer! It comes out crispy and custardy, a perfect complement to the spicy meat.

Okay, now I really have to get back there!

JF said...

don't know if you ever saw this article tracing the history of that particular Big Boy statue:

NW is a favorite of ours when no one can decide on what to eat. It has something for everyone.

Unknown said...

Mmmnnn... I miss Noodle World. I lived in LA for 3 months in 2007, and I got used to eating what was there... In-N-Out burgers, Pinkberry green tea, Cha Cha Cha's, Versailles Cuban chicken, Louise's pastas, Sam Woo Peking duck, Ruth's Chris prime rib, slush and boba, pastrami sandwiches and horchata our neighbor makes... God knows what else.

Anonymous said...

Ah, Noodle-World, and the spun-off Noodle Planet! Where else could you introduce your seven-year-old's less food-adventurous friends to the joys of pan-Asian carbs? For six bucks a head, with leftovers? I thought, at least in their early days, that they were several notches above Big Boy in terms of food quality, at least in part because they had SO many adjoining competitors. Still the biz model was, and remains brilliant

It still astonishes me, now that the Cam-Man is away at college, that the owners haven't franchised this to every major college town in the US, which instead make do with lame gringo-ized copies with names like "Kung-Pow Noodles!" or even just "Noodles". What Cam'd pay for a real Noodle World in Columbus!

silverlake bodhisattva aka richard gould-saltman
just back from a week in Columbus Ohio. . . .