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Asian Noodles in East Bay

r
redchair May 25, 2011 08:53 AM

My food-obsessed son wants to celebrate his 15th birthday by going out for Asian noodles (he isn't more specific about type of cuisine, though he really likes Vietnamese.) We live in Berkeley. What are the recommendations for good food in a location that's something above a hole in the wall, since it is a birthday celebration.

  1. Robert Lauriston May 25, 2011 09:08 AM

    Bowl'd.

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    Bowl'd
    1479 Solano Ave, Albany, CA 94706

    14 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston
      a
      abstractpoet May 25, 2011 09:45 AM

      What noodle dishes have you had at Bowl'd, Robert? I only recall seeing japchae on the menu, which to me is more of a side dish. But I agree that the ambiance/decor here is better than the average Asian restaurant.

      The desire for the restaurant to be better than a hole in the wall is what makes this tough. Most of the best Asian restaurants in the East Bay don't have much to offer in terms of decor - especially noodle joints.

      I like Chai Thai Noodles, but that may not be "nice" enough a restaurant for a special location.

      The Telegraph location is the nicest of the Burma Superstars, and there are several noodle options on the menu - that said, I've found the food to be uneven here. Very pleasant space, though, and if your son hasn't had Burmese food I think he'll enjoy trying the tea leaf salad, etc., even if there are other restaurants in the Bay Area that serve more authentic versions.

      Uzen has some good non-sushi options, including udon noodles that my wife seemed to enjoy one time.

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      Uzen Japanese Cuisine
      5415 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618

      Bowl'd
      1479 Solano Ave, Albany, CA 94706

      Chai Thai Noodles
      545 B International Blvd, Oakland, CA 94606

      Burma Superstar
      4721 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA

      1. re: abstractpoet
        Robert Lauriston May 25, 2011 10:00 AM

        So far I've had only the chap chae at Bowl'd, but everything I've had has been really good, so I expect the other noodle dishes are good, too.

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        Bowl'd
        1479 Solano Ave, Albany, CA 94706

        1. re: Robert Lauriston
          a
          abstractpoet May 25, 2011 10:04 AM

          I guess my question is just: are there other noodle dishes on the menu?

          My wife recently had the kimchi stew at Bowl'd, and it wasn't good (plenty spicy, but kind of one-note)...which leads me to believe that if you stray too far away from the rice bowls and such, the menu may be more uneven.

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          Bowl'd
          1479 Solano Ave, Albany, CA 94706

          1. re: abstractpoet
            Robert Lauriston May 25, 2011 10:24 AM

            I think they also have naeng myun. Also several kinds of dumplings.

            I've tried half a dozen dishes at Bowl'd so far and they were all first-rate, as were the panchan. Haven't tried the soondobu yet, or the bibimbap (rice bowl). The chap chae were good enough that I ordered them on both visits.

            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/768049

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            Bowl'd
            1479 Solano Ave, Albany, CA 94706

            1. re: Robert Lauriston
              a
              abstractpoet May 25, 2011 10:29 AM

              The dolsot bibimbap is great, as is the kimchi fried rice w/ bacon...so the few times I've been, it's been hard for me to pass up on those particular items. We enjoyed their chicken wings appetizer as well, but some people might not like the sweetness.

              But yeah, based on the kimchi stew, I'm a bit skeptical toward that whole section of the menu.

              1. re: abstractpoet
                Robert Lauriston May 25, 2011 10:33 AM

                I almost never order soondobu except at places that specialize in it, like Pyung Chang.

              2. re: Robert Lauriston
                drewskiSF May 25, 2011 05:50 PM

                they don't have neng myun.

                they do offer their "works" (non-stone bowl bibimbap) with buckwheat noodles instead of rice.

                that and the jap chae are the only noodle dishes on the menu.

              3. re: abstractpoet
                1
                10foot5 May 25, 2011 10:37 AM

                You and I are generally on the same page, abstractpoet, but not in this case. I thought the Kim chi Stew was really good at Bowl'd, about the best example I've found in the East Bay. Spicier than most with a nice vinegar tang. Plenty of good quality meat and tofu.

                I've only had it once though - maybe it varies from day to day.

                Their packaging for takeout is also exemplary. They sort of Cryovac (probably not the right word) seal each plastic container keeping everything tidy and amazingly hot. After the 20 minute drive home the food was still too hot to eat.

                I don't make it up Solano all that often but I want to try other items at Bowl'd. I may have a hard time passing up the Kim chi Ji Gae though.

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                Bowl'd
                1479 Solano Ave, Albany, CA 94706

                1. re: 10foot5
                  a
                  abstractpoet May 25, 2011 10:43 AM

                  Hmm...interesting - I only had a few bites of my wife's and didn't care much for the broth. I know she didn't like the dish. Then again, I think she also asked them to make it "not too spicy" (it was still pretty spicy), so I don't know if that threw things off. We are also relative lightweights in terms of heat.

                  Have you had the kimchi jjigae at Sura? I really like all the stews there, to give a frame of reference.

                  Maybe worth a second try, or at least some other folks' opinions. But like I said, most of the time when I go to Bowl'd, it's because I'm in the mood for bibimbap.

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                  Bowl'd
                  1479 Solano Ave, Albany, CA 94706

                  1. re: abstractpoet
                    1
                    10foot5 May 25, 2011 11:36 AM

                    I have not tried Sura yet, I'll put that on my list. Thanks.

                    My standby Kim Chee Jjige (I'm determined to spell it differently every time - as that's what the restos seem to do) is at Jong Ga house if you've had that one. But they vary from day to day too.

                    1. re: abstractpoet
                      1
                      10foot5 May 25, 2011 02:59 PM

                      I tried the kimchi jji gae at Sura for Lunch today. I think we'll have to agree to disagree for now. I enjoyed bowl'd version much more.

                      Perhaps it's not a fair comparison. I got takeout and the jji gae container biodegraded a bit ahead of schedule, leaving most of the broth sloshing in the bottom of the plastic bag. The broth that did remain was OK but nothing special. Some of the pork was good, some of it a bit too fatty and chewy. Overall it was a bit bland and under spiced for my taste. Price was right - with rice and tax it was still under $10.

                      Regardless, I'd never been inside Sura before. It seems like a nice place, and it's good to be exposed to another Korean option in my neighborhood. Thanks.

                      1. re: 10foot5
                        a
                        abstractpoet May 25, 2011 03:19 PM

                        At Sura my wife always orders one of the stews; I typically order the pork belly and squid sautee or some kind of BBQ, though I'm also partial to their daenjang jjigae (bean paste stew). (I probably shouldn't comment too much about kimchi jjigae specifically since, frankly, it isn't a dish I ever order for myself, though I don't dislike it.)

                        Their seafood pancake is among the best I've had, and the panchan spread is second to none (I assume you miss out on that if you're getting takeout, which I've never done here). But generally speaking, it's more of an all-purpose Korean restaurant rather than specializing in any one particular type of thing. The bibimbap is bad, so I'd steer clear of that.

                        1. re: abstractpoet
                          Robert Lauriston May 25, 2011 03:37 PM

                          Some comments on Sura in this topic:

                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/490903

            2. re: Robert Lauriston
              nicedragonboy May 25, 2011 10:14 AM

              The spicy rice cake dish at Bowl'd is noodle-ish and very good. Besides that, I'd recommend Anh Hong in downtown Berkeley for Vietnamese. Noodles aren't really their specialty, but they have several noodle dishes on the menu, the setting is nice enough and there's plenty of other options on the menu that if he changes his mind he can go in a totally different direction.

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              Bowl'd
              1479 Solano Ave, Albany, CA 94706

            3. Robert Lauriston May 25, 2011 10:15 AM

              Soi 4 is very nice and they make some of the best Thai food in the area.

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              Soi 4 Bangkok Eatery
              5421 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618

              1 Reply
              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                JasmineG May 25, 2011 12:07 PM

                Agreed on Soi 4, and I love their noodle dishes.

              2. m
                ML8000 May 25, 2011 10:29 AM

                Take a look at Noodle Theory at Claremont and College. It's casual but nicer. Menu will have to be reviewed.

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                Noodle Theory
                6099 Claremont Ave, Oakland, CA 94618

                1. twocents May 25, 2011 02:29 PM

                  Ruen Pair has good noodles. Beef Boat Noodles is my favorite rendition of the dish, bar none (haven't been to Thailand). I've had good Pad See Ewe and I also enjoy their "fusion" dish of Spaghetti Kee Mao (get it with chicken). I like Pho Ao Sen for Viet beef stew noodle and pho and bun, the cold noodle salad. hole in the wall, though. I agree with the Sura recommendation in general, though I don't often get Korean noodles except for jap chae.

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                  Ruen Pair
                  1045 San Pablo Ave, Albany, CA 94706

                  Pho Ao Sen
                  1139 E 12th St, Oakland, CA

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: twocents
                    Robert Lauriston May 25, 2011 02:48 PM

                    Ruen Pair's a good call. Nicer than most Thai Places.

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                    Ruen Pair
                    1045 San Pablo Ave, Albany, CA 94706

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston
                      nicedragonboy May 25, 2011 03:41 PM

                      just be careful on the spice level. Ruen Pair knows how to turn up the heat and when they do it is INSANE.

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                      Ruen Pair
                      1045 San Pablo Ave, Albany, CA 94706

                  2. j
                    j mather May 25, 2011 05:09 PM

                    My family (which includes a 14 and 18 yr old who are pretty serious about food) has been very happy with Happy Golden Bowl in El Cerrito. They make their own noodles that have a great chewy texture. Last time I was there we had a very good tan tan noodle. It's a step above hole-in-the-wall, but not a big step.
                    http://www.happygoldenbowl.com/

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                    Happy Golden Bowl
                    10675 San Pablo Ave, El Cerrito, CA

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