Ashley Chung is a senior at CHS and is excited to be a Senior Managing Editor for the Globe this year. Ashley joined the Globe because she enjoys writing and she thought it would...
October 21, 2017
This weekend, I was excited to go visit the new ramen restaurant in St. Louis, Nudo House. Located in a strip mall off Olive Blvd, the restaurant is about 15 minutes from Clayton.
I was excited to try this new ramen restaurant, as I am a large fan of the noodles and quite experienced in eating them. My expectations for the ramen were not very high, as I knew that St. Louis did not have great Asian cuisine, and that the ramen could never be as authentic as when I ate it in Tokyo.
Nudo House was founded by executive chef Marie-Anne Velasco and Qui Tran, son of Lee Tran, who founded the popular Vietnamese restaurant, Mai Lee. Having heard positive reviews on this restaurant, I was intrigued about how well the restaurant owner, coming from Vietnamese descent, would be able to make Japanese ramen.
When I first walked in, I was greeted by a large poster of Voltron and a friendly face behind the cashier. I would describe the interior design as hip and refreshing. The color red popped out to me as the chairs, part of the ceiling and the staff all donned the same color. The restaurant used the space it had efficiently; the kitchen was open where diners would be able to get a glimpse of the several chefs cooking. Collections of photos of Qui Tran and his family cooking were displayed all throughout the walls, giving the restaurant a personal touch. The interior design of the restaurant really caught my eye and was one of my favorite parts of the restaurant.
After considering the menu for a couple minutes, my family and I ordered the four different ramen selections: Classic Nudo, Hebrew Hammer, O’Miso Spicy and Shroomed Out. We paid for our meal and the cashier asked us for our name so that they could bring the noodles to us.
Having gone at 11:30 on a Saturday, the restaurant was relatively filled, but not packed, which was convenient in the sense that a table was easy to find. Nudo House accented the slightly casual style of the restaurant by providing a bar area where you could get condiments, drinks, napkins, etc.
Not even five minutes after sitting down, all four of the noodles came to our table. I was pleasantly surprised by the speed of the food, being one who is not patient.
Each ramen was topped with half of a marinated boiled egg, laver, sliced green onions, and sesame seeds. Despite this similarity, each noodle dish had unique aspects related to their title. Three different widths of noodles were present, and I noted that those noodles were packaged, since I could see the packages when walking in.
As I ate O’Miso Spicy, I noticed a slight kick in the ramen, not too much, but enough to be noticeable. I enjoyed the marinated egg because it was done perfectly: the yolk was not dry and it melted in my mouth. The bean sprouts were a perfect addition as it added a slight crunch to the otherwise all soft ramen. Unfortunately, the broth was a little too salty; I found myself reaching for water quite often. Despite this, O’Miso Spicy was my favorite ramen.
Shroomed Out had a white creamy broth with a more earthy flavor. This ramen was vegetarian, so it was very different from the traditional pork based broth that I was accustomed to. Although I would choose other options over this ramen, it is a great alternative to those who enjoy ramen but are vegetarian.
Classic Nudo was the traditional ramen. With all the aspects that one would expect a ramen to have, this bowl of noodles was the option for those who aren’t feeling too adventurous and would like the most classic ramen. Besides the fact that the broth was a little salty, the Classic Nudo was a very average ramen with nothing that especially stood out positively or negatively.
The Hebrew Hammer was not made with pork broth, which changed the overall ramen taste. Including chicken on the top and chicken broth, this ramen tasted more like an Asian chicken noodle soup with ramen noodles. Regardless of this, the broth was not bad, although it was salty just like the other broths had been.
Although one bowl of ramen was enough for me, it did not satisfy the needs of my dad. A stereotypical teenage boy would have to order two bowls in order to be full. Curious about the rest of the menu, we then ordered Nudo Banh Mi ($6) and a Spring Roll with pork and shrimp ($2). I had high expectations for these Vietnamese dishes, as one of the founders, Qui Tran, had a Vietnamese background and a family that ran Mai Lee.
I was disappointed by the Spring Roll. Although the hoisin-peanut sauce that accompanied it was satisfying, the roll itself was a little skimpy. The roll was overpowered with too much lettuce, and there was only one slice of pork and one shrimp. Also, the roll itself was a little loosely wrapped, which caused part of the roll to fall out.
Even though the Spring Roll had let me down, I was still looking forward to trying the Bahn Mi. This Vietnamese sandwich was where you could really tell that Nudo House understood Vietnamese cooking. The pork inside the Bahn Mi was the same fatty pork that was on the ramen, not the traditional barbecue flavor that I was expecting. Despite this, the soft pork blended well together with the cilantro, marinated carrots, and jalapeno. Sweet mayo lined the inside of the sandwich and added a different flavor to the Bahn Mi. But even with all these elements, the best part of the Bahn Mi was the bread. The baguette was toasted so that the outside was crispy enough to provide a nice crunch, but inner part of the bread was still soft.
Overall, Nudo House provided both modern and traditional Japanese ramens along with assorted Vietnamese dishes. The price was a little expensive for the ramens’ value, which might make a student operating on a lower budget choose to go to a closer and slightly less expensive option (for the value), Midtown Sushi and Ramen. Despite this, it is exciting that a ramen restaurant opened in an area that does not have many Asian cuisines. Hopefully, Nudo House will be able to grow, improve, and attract more customers as it gets more exposure.