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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.

              2. can anyone post the address and business ours of this place?
                also does it take cash/CC???

                3 Replies
                1. re: SumoSizeMe

                  It's on Claremont, at College. I don't know what the business hours are, but they're open for dinner, I think every day.

                  1. re: SumoSizeMe

                    6099 Claremont Ave (at College)
                    Oakland, CA 94620
                    (510) 595-6988

                    My boyfriend and I finallly tried Noodle Theory last night. For the quailty of the food (free range meats like Niman Ranch), portion size, and price, I'd recommend the restaurant. However the menu is somewhat limited, but they do offer every a variety of meat options (beef, pork, chicken, fish) and a few vegetarian options. The space is oddly shaped, creating a seating area with tables that are VERY close together.

                    1. re: SumoSizeMe

                      According to their website their hours are:
                      Lunch 11:30-2:30 M-Sat; 12:00-2:30 (Sun)
                      Dinner 5-9 (M-Sun)
                      Closed Tuesday

                      Carryout orders available.

                      All Major CC taken.

                    2. Went on Saturday for lunch. Very crowded, but squeezed us in. Had the shrimp dumplings (good, but too pricey), the curry noodles with grilled salmon (tasty, but a little too rich) and the spicy ground pork noodles (loved them). A good addition to the neighborhood, but I will probably stick to take-out given the size of the place and the lackluster drink selection.

                      1. We ate there 2 weeks ago on a Sunday night. We eat at Oliveto's every Friday night for the past 4 to 5 years. We love food. Our ecperience was great. Food outstanding service wonderful. Go back and give it a try.

                        1. Writing now in late May of 2007, maybe Noodle Theory has hit their stride? We've eaten there twice now in the past 2 weeks and had fabulous meals. Once we had to wait about 1/2-hour, and many others were, too; the other time we went at about 5:15 and it was almost empty and we had a very pleasant, quiet time.

                          The meals were great; the first time I had the spicy ground pork over noodles (their take on Tan-Tan Noodles, one of my favorites), the second I had the grilled chicken over ginger noodles, which was great. For one of the few times in memory, the chicken was flavorful and grilled perfectly, as was my wife's salmon. Add a plate of spicy green beans, and you have a great meal.

                          Noodle Theory's distinguishing qualities are their signature chewy, hand-made noodles; their inspired combinations of curries, gingers and spices; and their perfect grilling of the best meats and ingredients.

                          The space is tiny, but distinctively designed; eating just feet from the open grill is fun, hearing orders placed, etc. The noise level is manageable compared to the din at places like The Townhouse or Pyramid Brewery. The bathroom (there is only one) is cool and beautiful - black river rock walls, interesting angles, the odd geometry of this corner restaurant making for a surprisingly spacious bathroom. The only negatives are that the service is still a work in progress but getting better, and the wine, which was generous the first time, now comes in smaller shot glasses.

                          I'm older now, watch my weight and don't eat as much as I used to, therefore I find Noodle Theory's portions perfect. Also, making more money than I used to makes me a regular at our local College Avenue restaurants like Tachibana & Garibaldi's; Noodle Theory represents a low-cost but equal-in-quality alternative to these favorites. I like the idea of spending more money for less food of higher quality, rather than vice-versa.

                          Noodle Theory is truly wonderful right now, and we'll keep coming back; go there now so you can say you went there before they got big.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Alano

                            One small note - if you're allergic to shellfish, Noodle Theory is not a good option. There is an oyster stock in almost all of their dishes. Too bad, I'd like to go here more often, but Mrs. Mousse's allergy pretty much assures that we wont be back.

                          2. Had dinner at Noodle Theory with four friends the other night. I thought in general the food was good and the prices were reasonable for the quality and the portions.

                            I had the special of duck breast with wide noodles in a Thai curry sauce. It was delicious but very rich -- too rich for the size of the portion. I would have liked it better if it were lightened up with some vegetables (green beans or baby bok choi both would have been good with this dish). Other members of my party has the spicy ground pork, and although they didn't say anything, I got the impression they thought it got a little monotous after a while. I think my friend's ramen was a better choice. Alternatively, although they don't present the dishes that way, ordering family style might be more satisfying.

                            We did order both the shrimp chive dumplings and the wontons in chili oil for the table. I thought both of these were weaker than the noodle dishes -- I didn't like the filling on the former or the wrapper on the latter.

                            I think if you order right you can have a very good meal there for a reasonable price.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                              I ate there on Friday for lunch and had the ginger chicken noodles, which were excellent--just the right amount of kick to them. I love the constistency of the noodles-- they have great bite.

                              Had the pork the last time and I found the spice overwhelming.

                              1. re: zunzie

                                Yes! The texture of their noodles is to die for...
                                I like the ginger chicken noodles also.

                            2. I went on Wednesday, 9/26, and it was pretty good. As a long time fan of the food (but not service)at Nan Yang, and went on a friend's recommendation to try this place out. Noodle Theory has a way to go with service too, but overall, it was the food that disapointed. We shared the pork wontons in chili oil (mild chili oil, pretty plain wontons,) the pork and spring onion dumplings (like plain, steamed pot stickers, fine, but nothing fancy,) and the grilled chicken over ginger noodles. The chicken was flavorful with good grill marks, and the noodles were the best! They had good texture and the sauce was light, no goopy mess at the bottom of the bowl. I would say it might be best to concentrate on the noodle dishes and leave out the dumplings and wontons. I'd be happier in a second rate japanese place with fried gyoza that jumped out of the freezer and into the oil. The food did come out quickly, but for the money, I'm not going back...