Hearty, affordable fare that won't cost more than the pocket change left over after your visit with the tax man
Reviewed by Mick Vann, Fri., April 15, 2005
2400 E. Oltorf, 443-5282
Monday-Saturday, 11am-10pm; Sunday, noon-9:30pm
Paying one's taxes generally produces depression, and a common reaction to depression is to eat: not for sustenance, but to eat something exotic and different, in large quantities, and for little money. Java Noodles has been one of our all-purpose cures for a number of years now, and even after Johannes sold it to Nguyen Chau four years ago, its star has kept its luster. The lunch buffet and the Sunday buffet are two of the best deals in town, and both are guaranteed to have you forgetting your monetary pain by the time you leave.
Lunch at Java (Monday-Friday, 11am-2:30pm; Saturday, noon-2:30pm, $5.50-6.25) is a hybrid between menu and buffet, and a remarkable deal. On one wall is the buffet portion: two different soups (usually hot and sour and an aromatic coconut curry) served with wonton chips, delectable fried chicken wings, and the addictive banana egg rolls for dessert. From the menu portion, there are 21 different entrées from which to choose, our personal favorite being the Java Special: mixed meats with assorted vegetables in an exotically spiced red sauce (or a brown sauce if your piquancy level is diminished). If you can't decide, there's always the Nasi Rames: a mix of beef rendang (think Indonesian carne guisada), the amazing chicken satay, marinated chicken in spicy sauce, and a fried egg. Among the remaining 19 entrées are treats like Java roast duck, stir-fried homemade egg noodles, and plenty of options for the vegetarians.
The Sunday Buffet (noon-3pm, $7.95) ramps it up considerably. On our last visit, there were 20 different items, including chicken dumplings, tofu with green beans and basil in coconut milk, steamed fish with black bean sauce, a sweet and spicy fried tofu dish with pineapple, and more. Service is seamless and friendly, the food is spectacular, and the prices are very easy on the wallet. If you haven't been, we can only ask: Why not?
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