Noodle-ism is ideal for a mixed group of carnivores, vegetarians, and vegans. And even though the food is fast, it never feels like fast food.


4404 W. William Cannon, 899-8862

Monday-Thursday, 11am-2pm, 4:30-9:30pm; Friday, 11am-2pm, 4:30-10pm; Saturday, Noon-11pm; Sunday, noon-9pm

Noodle-ism is the offspring of the successful Bistro 88 in West Lake. Owner Jeff Liu decided to develop a lower-cost restaurant that would have some of the high quality of his original place. To keep the quality up and to get the food out fast, he focuses on a few Asian-esque fried noodle dishes, all of which you can order at nearly any degree of spiciness and with shrimp, chicken, beef, or crispy tofu. A nice list of appetizers, soups, and exotic teas rounds out the offering.

The place has a modern look, with clean lines, comfortable seats, and room for an intimate conversation. You place your order at the front counter, where we received smilingly happy service. The open kitchen was clean and hustling, and our orders came out very quickly. We started with the Pot Stickers ($5.95 for six), which had delicate skins and a slight tanginess that added to their flavor. We also ordered the Crispy Tofu ($3.50), which was nine little logs of tofu, delicately crispy and topped with a flavorful soy and garlic sauce, along with a few delicate slices of baby scallions.

We also tried Dan Dan Noodles ($7.85), a luscious dish made from thick flour noodles resting in a pool of rich Sichuan peanut sauce. This dish is available vegan (they have a dozen vegan dishes in total), but I ordered it with shrimp, which came with a salty crust on the tails that added a nice contrasting touch to the sweetness of the shrimp. The Singapore Rice Noodles ($7.60) with chicken had thin rice noodles and a nice group of thinly sliced and perfectly cooked vegetables. The curry they used was a little grainy, but it was otherwise enjoyable and mild. Like all of Noodle-ism's dishes, anyone who prefers their food with a lot of fire can get it on request.

We returned the next day for more food and tried the Lettuce Wrap ($5.95), a huge appetizer with tofu, mushrooms, and several different vegetables served steaming hot in a bowl, along with two large, crisp lettuce leaves. I'm a happy carnivore and not used to finding so many really delicious vegan dishes, but the Lettuce Wrap was another winner. The Stir Fried Udon ($7.60) was also vegan, but I had them add some shrimp. The noodles were fat and slick with a nice selection of bok choy, red peppers, and mushrooms and a delicate soy-based sauce.

Noodle-ism's dessert case was filled with beautiful but rather soulless looking desserts. Then we spied some homemade lemon bars (75 cents) sitting on the counter wrapped in cellophane. One of the staff makes them from her mother's recipe, and they are a little bit of dessert heaven: rich and lemony with a texture between shortbread and a brownie. Definitely the best 75-cent dessert I've had in many a year.

Noodle-ism is ideal for a mixed group of carnivores, vegetarians, and vegans. And even though the food is fast, it never feels like fast food.

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Noodle-ism, Bistro 88, Jeff Liu

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