day thirty-one: asian noodle house
June 22, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Despite sharing an similar-looking awning, entrance sign, and kitchen space, Asian Noodle House was not, as I had expected, exactly Little Thai House Redux. Like Little Thai House, the precise cultural heritage of Asian Noodle House’s cuisine was unclear. Unlike Little Thai House, the inside of Asian Noodle House features a slightly more finished restaurant feel. For this luxury, one pays more. Unlike at Little Thai House, where one can purchase any one entree the restaurant offers for exactly $4.26, there is no single entree at Asian Noodle House that costs $4.26. Instead, the prices here range from $5.75 to $12.95. Considering the shared kitchen space and the fact that some of Little Thai House’s menu items are cross-listed with those of Asian Noodle House, the price differential feels, at best, unnecessary, at worst, absurd.
Asian Noodle House serves a hodge-podge of pan-Asian offerings with no fusion between them: Wonton soup, spring rolls, gyoza, Malaysian roti, Thai curry, and fried rice were all amongst the offerings. Basically, if it’s even vaguely Asian and, in general, people seem to like it well enough, there’s a good chance that Asian Noodle House serves it.
Asian Noodle House’s lunch menu is more limited than the full dinner menu, with most lunch entrees falling into either the noodle soup or fried rice category, pad thai being one exception. While my innermost journalist said that I should, for the sake of argument, order the pad thai and compare it to the pad thai from Little Thai House, it was quite late and I was hungry. Even in memory, the pad thai from Little Thai House looked so unappetizing as to seem implausible as a satiating option. I instead decided on spicy basil fried rice. It sounded safe, filling. And, I haven’t had fried rice in years. It could be good. It was too hot outside to even contemplate the possibility of noodle soup. I impulse-ordered a Thai Iced Tea to quench my thirst. While not a remarkable Thai Iced Tea in any way, it hit that caffeinated, coconut milky sweet spot that only Thai Iced Tea (or Thai Iced Coffee) does. Compared to something like a bottled coffee drink or a Starbucks specialty, the cup of Thai Iced Tea you get for $1.50 is a summertime deal.
I got my order to go and, back at work, unpacked my styrofoam box. It smelled unbelievably delicious. I could smell both the basil and the spice before I even opened the lid. When I did open the lid, though, I was disappointed by the look of the fried rice. The vegetables looked anemic and the rice a starchy, overcooked heap. I took a bite and found that this dish tasted very much like it looked. The spice of the rice was something special, with the heat of the chilis hitting my palate in a rounded, comprehensive way. However, the vegetables were virtually tasteless, as was the chewy chicken. The rice was indeed slightly overcooked and, alas, the basil was not as present in the taste as it had been in the scent.
That said, for takeout fried rice, my overall feeling was that this was not too bad. Had it been priced more in accordance with Little Thai House’s scale or even just slightly higher at, say, $5.32/entree, I would have been content. Yet, while the serving size Asian Noodle House gave me was a heaping one, it still did not feel like it was worth the $7.95 I paid for it.
So, take your pick: Little Thai House for the to-go deal, Asian Noodle House for the for-here variety. Or, stop in Little Thai House, see if there’s something you want and, if not, while no one’s looking, pull a super-stealth ninja move and sneak over to Asian Noodle House without even stepping outside.
Price: Not as student-friendly as it could be ($5.75 – $12.95)
Location: 204 Dryden Road
Call ahead pick-up: (607) 272-9106