Times Visited: 2
Noodles follows the new wave of fast-food corporate chains – cheap, fast, “fresh”, “healthy”, and semi-local. I assumed my vegan options would be minimal, but even Burgerville has vegan options, so I stopped by The Pearl location to see what Noodles is all about.
I wasn’t too far off. It’s a fast-food joint with “healthy” menu options, even 3 vegan options, and tofu! The restaurant has much of a new style chain feel to it as well -mixed seating – booths, tables, and bar. Bright colors in strategic locations draw you in and direct you, all while boasting about the company. The menu reminded me I was in a fast-food joint, but the signs reassuring me of their fresh ingredients, so it was clear that they are part of this “healthy fast food” trend sweeping the nation, like Chipotle and Baja Fresh.
The menu contains different noodle dishes from a few corners of the world – Asian, Mediterranean, and American. These include noodle dishes, soups, and salads. There’s also the option to choose your own protein, add sides, beverages, and desserts. For vegans there are three vegan noodle dishes – Japanese Pan Noodles, Bangkok Curry, and Indonesian Peanut Saute. Add tofu to any of these dishes and you have a fast, solid, decently priced, and tasty meal.
Bangkok Coconut would be a better name for the Bangkok Curry dish since it is light on the curry flavor. It is strong on the coconut and delicious enough to order again. The noodles are coated in the sweet coconut curry sauce while both the noodles and vegetables are sprinkled with an extra bit of chili powder mix. An extra $1.75 for the tofu would have been a nice touch but it wasn’t necessary for a $5.30 dish. This was a good price for a lunch or dinner. The meal was able to fill me up as I cleaned my plate. For a meal in The Pearl, that’s a steal!
The Indonesian Peanut Saute had a chili pepper next to it on the menu, though I didn’t believe it would be too spicy. However, it was on the brink of too spicy for this wussy Stumptown Vegan. I sprung for the tofu with this dish and I was glad I did because I had leftovers! Rice Noodles, broccoli, carrots, cabbage, and lots of peanutty goodness! There seemed to be more vegetables in this portion than the Bangkok Curry, which I enjoyed. The tofu seemed pre-cooked, then pan fried for to heat. The texture was firm and there was enough peanut sauce to fully coat the tofu. The menu does provide the option to add extra vegetables to the dish for 75 cents more, for those with a hollow leg.
The way you order is very fast-food-like: order at the bar and pay first. No need to bus your own table here, but customers are not allowed to tip. I was told this was to pass along the value of dining to the customer.
Since Noodles is so close to Blossoming Lotus it’s hard to say I’d go back soon. But, if I was low on funds I’d head back the next time I’m in the area since they have varying sizes of meals: small, medium and large, for varying prices. Take an omni for a casaul lunch or dinner. Oh, and if you have other allergies, ask to see the allergy matrix they have available – it’s very helpful! If you want a similar style of meal with more options and larger portions hit up a New Season’s wok bar.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
100 NW 10th Ave.
Portland, OR 97209
1445 N.E. Weidler Street
Portland, OR 97232
4655 SW Griffith Dr
Beaverton, OR 97005
12190 SE 82nd Ave
Clackamas, OR 97086
7216 NE Cornell Road
Hillsboro, OR 97124