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Feb 28, 2007 07:23 PM

Noodle Theory -- Oakland

Noodle Theory, which just opened a few days ago, just provided us with one of the most frustrating and disappointing evenings in a long time. We waited 45 minutes for any food at all to arrive at our table, while people came and went and opened and closed the door right next to us, freezing us out. And when the food finally came, hor d'oeuvres and main courses arrived at the same time. Mostly they were a let-down (pork dumplings were dull, the grilled chicken with ginger noodles was cold, and the dry-fried green beans were overcooked, though nicely flavored). People getting take-out milled about in the tiny space, seeming to get much better service than those of us at tables. Maybe they will figure it out with experience, but it will be a long time before I go back.

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  1. I'd cut them a little slack -- tonight was their opening night.

    1. As one of those milling about waiting for takeout, I tend to agree with JasmineG -- they clearly still had a lot to work out. The small space, especially near the entrance, is going to be challenge.

      And the food? Tasty in quite large portions.

      Here's hoping that they find their groove quickly...

      1. Yes, give them a chance. Today was the first day open to the general public, they were slammed from lunch time on, and they are a very small staff. I had lunch and the food was slow in coming, but well worth the wait. I had the pork belly topped ramen, very delicious and my leftovers were even better tonight—rich and porky. My friend had the grilled beef with coconut curry lime broth udon soup, also fabulous and quite rich. We tried both kinds of dumpling and preferred the shrimp and chive ones, but still liked the pork. I also had the dry fried green breans and thought they were a bit overcooked, salty, and that I'd rather order them at China Village.
        Some friends were there also and ordered the curry noodles with grilled salmon and the miso ramen with grilled salmon. Both smelled enticing and I plan to give them a try soon.

        My ramen noodles had a great flavor and texture, and were garnished with both spinach and the Asian type of mustard green, one of my favorite vegetables.

        I'm sure it will take a little while to iron out the kinks, but I am delighted to have them in the neighborhood. Rockridge is looking up, foodwise.

        1. I had take out for lunch today too. Opening day so of course I expected kinks - yes, the wait was long but the chef seems very competent - I was able to watch him put together several orders (I'm a chef myself.) He's got a very nice set up so once he finds his groove and trains his line cook the food should come up much quicker.

          I had the shrimp dumpling - not crazy about the filling - shrimp was off. Wrapper was ok, dipping sauce was nice. And I had the cold soba noodle to share with my veggie mate. We liked that a lot - noodles perfectly cooked, sauce was nicely balance between sweet sour and salty. In putting together his dishes he is using lots of layers. So I expect his other dishes to be quite tasty.

          Menu reads really nice and can't wait to try some of the dishes I saw him put up (which I think were Armoise's :).

          1. Any updates on food or service since their rocky opening week? It would be great if this place could execute on their appealing menu.

            2 Replies
            1. re: dordogne

              I ate there again on Monday, disappointed to see the pork belly ramen had lost the pork belly and aquired a spicy pork loin. The server said they are trying different things out, and it may be back. I had the shrimp dumplings again, good, but I still find the portion size/price ratio skimpy. For $8.50 I think there should be two more. I tried the cold somen noodle salad with grilled salmon and wasabi miso vinaigrette. The dressing was very mild, wasabi seemed very muted, almost not there. I found myself wishing it had a standard somen tsuyu dressing, or at least more shoyu flavor. But the salad was fresh and the julienned cucumber, greens, and salmon worked well together.
              Just came back from visiting Burma and Thailand, and wish we could get more authentic southeast Asian food here. The traditional seasonings are so vibrant, fusion just seems a bland waste of time.

              1. re: dordogne

                Everytime we try to go the place is so busy we just give up. It's usually packed and we are too hungry to wait.