My friends and I ate at Noodlecat last night, and I can honestly say that I don’t know what has taken me so long to eat there. My only excuse is that I don’t usually eat downtown, and was reminded of why when I had to pay almost $10 to park since House of Blues was having some special event that night. Yes, I am a spoiled suburbanite (if Cleveland Heights can be considered the suburbs – but I gladly pay a couple quarters at their meters…). That said, I do occasionally eat in the Warehouse District, but generally can find a cheap spot on the street or cough up $5 for a spot in the parking lot. It’s not that I mind paying to park, but when there are so many other options that don’t necessitate paying half to one-fourth of the cost of the meal… Unfortunately there were no available spots on Prospect or Euclid, so I valeted it on E. 4th.
Noodlecat is unpretentious and casual, using recycled materials in the same way as The Greenhouse Tavern. Being an environmentalist from way back (since the 1980s) I love that. My only complaint about the decor is that the chair started becoming uncomfortable after an hour and a half. In short, my butt hurt from sitting on the little metal chair, and my fellow diners told me the wood bench wasn’t much better.
Those are the only two negatives I have to report. In short, the food was simply amazing, and I take it as a good sign that I am craving the food the next day. If you are a fan of pho or ramen you will be quite pleased with what they serve. It was a happy accident that I scheduled our dinner for 6:30, which was at the tail end of their happy hour. All the ramen was $5 and the steam buns were just $2. I walked away paying just $20 including tip.
I started off by ordering a sparkling sake, which was on draft and only $4. Win! The sake was just what I wanted/needed. It was light and just a little sweet. Choosing an entree was a difficult decision. I was tempted to order Roscoe’s Fried Chicken & Ramen with fried chicken, butter, hot sauce, maple syrup, greens and fried chicken broth, but changed my mind when I heard the chicken was bone-in. Three of my fellow diners ordered it and loved it. They did, however, have trouble getting the meat off the bone with only chopsticks and an Asian-style soup spoon.
One of my fellow diners ordered the Kim Chee Salad with Napa cabbage, sweet pureed kim chee, cashews, peanuts and pickled melon. Not being a fan of kim chee but willing to keep an open mind I was able to try several bites. The salad was flavorful and had a subtle heat that snuck up on you. Another friend ordered the “Super” Salad with adzuki beans, local greens, dry blueberry, savory green tea granola and ancient grains. He loved it and even pointed out to the waiter that there wasn’t a drop left.
I decided to go with a chicken yakitori steam bun with pickled carrots, miso mayo and cilantro, which I enjoyed. However, as luck would have it our waiter had accidentally ordered two Tonkatsu buns that featured a crispy fried pork cutlet and smoked egg sauce. I told him I would be happy to pay for one of them, and I am so glad I did because it was my favorite part of the meal (and that is saying a lot). It was a taste explosion of goodness.
For my entree I ordered a bowl of the pork miso ramen, which features roasted Ohio pork, miso, scallions and greens. The noodles and roasted pork were perfectly cooked, and the broth was so flavorful and delicious that I drank up every last drop.
I ended my meal with the green tea pot de creme. I love green tea ice cream, and the pot de creme was absolutely perfect. The consistency was firm and not runny, and the flavor was light and balanced. The shaved chocolate on top was a nice complement to the green tea pot de creme. The waiter informed us that the chef had spent two weeks working to perfect it. I say thumbs up!
Several of us headed over to the Chocolate Bar for a night cap afterward. Since the temperature had dropped 40 degrees in a day I was chilled and chose the caramel and sea salt hot chocolate. It was creamy and delicious. The perfect ending to a perfect meal.
234 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44114