Nothing But Noodles

Categories: Casual, Chain, Eat-in
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Published on: August 13, 2008

My wife and I visited the new Nothing But Noodles location in Dewitt recently.

We arrived around 7 PM and the place was busy, but not crowded. Coming in, it reminded me of the old Ponderosa “cattle run” entry, where you’re herded down chutes before getting to the front to order. Large poster-sized menus on the wall offer you a chance to point things out to one another.

It’s an interesting concept – you start with a basic noodle dish, and then add proteins (meat or tofu) which, of course, adds to the price.

The counter is directly in front of the cooking area – I hesitate to call it a kitchen. And it is LOUD. Way too loud for the girl working there to accurately hear our orders. Luckily the register shows what she’s punching in, and we both had to correct her. I have no idea what was making the most noise, but it was constant throughout our entire visit.

Once you’re away from the counter, the noise level drops, but then the music gets layered on over top of it. Writing this, I feel like some teenager’s grandparent, complaining about their music. But it really was very loud, and the music didn’t cover it up, just added to it.

Are the people who float around the dining room wait staff? I don’t know. We were given a laminated order number to place on our table, and a couple different girls brought our food over (I’ll get to that soon), but the girl at the counter told us if we wanted anything, we needed to come back to the counter. One of the same girls cleared off our table, too.

The dining area is a mix of everything from two-seaters to large, semi-circular booths that would probably seat 8 comfortably. The area was clean and in good repair, but I did have one complaint – the lighting. Even though it was daylight, and the large front windows were letting in plenty of sun, each table had at least one light hung about 18 inches or so off the surface, and they’re cocooned in red plastic. Which means, everything in front of you has a reddish tinge to it, and you can’t see stuff in the shadows. Not a deal breaker, but it doesn’t win points (with me, anyway) for ambiance.

We started out with Thai lettuce wraps – a surprisingly tasty filling in a bowl, with which we got large lettuce leaves. Actually, they looked more like cabbage leaves, they were that round and green, but I’m sure it was some type of lettuce. The leaves were fresh, and still had a little of the rinse water on them (not a bad thing – at least you know they had a dunk in something). The sauce was a little spicy, but the taste really wasn’t like anything we’ve had in a Thai restaurant. It wasn’t bad, just different.

We were about done when the entrees arrived. I ordered the spicy Japanese Udon, and got chicken as an add-on. Everything was (temperature) hot, and smelled very appetizing. I was surprised a little by the udon – again, nothing wrong with them, but they were a little more “rubbery” than most I’ve had. The added chicken was just that – added. It seemed like they cut up half a breast and poured a little sauce on it while they flash-fried it. It was tender and cooked (I think – see the red light comment above), but really added very little to the taste of the veggies and udon.

My wife had the Pad Thai noodles, and she ordered it “hot.” I didn’t try her dish, but it looked and smelled close to what we get in some of our favorite Thai places.

There was more than enough in the bowl – she left a few bites at the end of the meal. She added tofu to her dish, and was happy with it.

With a large soda, which we shared, the bill came to around $32 – including the 20% tip we decided to leave on the table. I think it’s pretty steep for a couple bowls of pasta, especially given the semi-lack of service (no-one asked if we wanted more soda, which we kind of expected from the counter girl’s comment, but they did clear away our dishes as we finished with them), and the extremely casual atmosphere.

The food certainly wasn’t “the best I’ve ever eaten,” but it really wasn’t bad. It’s way too expensive for us to drive all the way down from Oswego county just to eat there, but since we occasionally make the trek to B&N across the street, I wouldn’t mind going back and trying some of the other dishes.

One oddity I wanted to mention: our meals arrived with what looked like poorly carved chop sticks stuck into the noodles. When I went to pull them out, I found out they were actually bread sticks. I tried one – it was totally devoid of flavor, and the end that had been stuck in the noodles was soggy and mealy. Maybe I’m just not sophisticated enough, but I didn’t see the point. Try ’em if you want, but I’d recommend you view them strictly as decorative.

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