I like a good pun almost as much as a good bowlful of noodles, so when The Nood Bar opened in North Park a couple months back, I grabbed a stack of one dollar bills and went to take a gander.
Having heard it was opened by a vet of local restaurant Amarin Thai, I kind of figured there would be stuff like pad thai and drunken noodles on the menu. But there’s no strict cultural affiliation in this pan-Asian eatery: its varied noodle dishes represent Japan, China, Indonesia, and Malaysia as well as Thailand.
Take a look at the Build Your Own Noodles Soup section of the menu to get an idea of the scope here. In addition to 8- or 9-dollar tom yum, tom kha, miso, and an exquisitely creamy tonkotsu pork broth served with delectable Szechuan chicken wontons.
The spicy and mildly numbing ground chicken meatballs filling these dumplings have already established themselves on my list of current cravings. If you’re low on appetite or funds, you can settle for a simple wonton soup. But for three bucks more you may round out the meal with a choice of rice noodles (thin or flat), udon, egg, ramen, or glass noodles.
If you want buckwheat soba noodles, check out the stir fries, including Japanese yakisoba and the Chef’s Selection mi goreng, an Indonesian dish similar to Chinese chow mein, but made with a southeast Asian palate in mind. Flavored with a sweetly dark soy sauce and chili spice, the $13.99 dish is topped by default with chicken, sweet Chinese sausage, and shrimp. There’s also a Malaysian laksa noodle soup, featuring some of the same toppings with a coconut curry broth; and Singapore favorite char kway teow, a stir fry of flat rice noodle with dark soy and spicy bean paste.
My favorite so far have been the dan dan noodles: boiled ramen noodles topped with both ground and cha siu pork, baby bok choy, cucumber, carrot, and crushed peanuts. On the side, you get a small bowl of white sesame paste to mix up with your preferred amount of chili oil before mixing in to the noodles and toppings. It’s a winner from presentation to taste.
The Nood Bar has made a lot of smart moves developing its menu since it soft-opened, and keeping its cleanly decorated counter shop open til 10pm each night is one of them. When 9 pm hits most weeknights in San Diego, late dinner options get limited. I’m imagining quite a few 9:30 visits to The Nood Bar in my future. Don’t worry, they take credit cards too.