Lunch at Noodle Nami | St. John’s
When new restaurants open in St. John’s, I get excited. When said restaurant opens a ten-minute walk from my house I get fired up — I couldn’t wait to blog about Noodle Nami. When the food wasn’t amazing…well, I don’t blog much about those less-than-stellar experiences much anymore. I first started typing about Halifax restaurants on The Food Girl in Town imagining myself the next great food critic, I even had a ranking system! But as the blog evolved it’s turned into a place for me to talk about all the restaurants I visit (because I eat out a lot) and my adventures in travelling to them. Restaurants have been — for lack of a better term — the bread and butter of The Food Girl in Town. Who can forget my lament of the rolls at Alo, or my monologue on the homemade mini breads at Fork?
Ironically, I’m just as critical of dining out as ever. Probably more considering I’ve eaten at hundreds of restaurants since the blog started in 2012. Sometimes a girl just has to nit-pick her noodles… so let’s just see what’s on the menu at Noodle Nami.
What’s on the menu at Noodle Nami
My sister and I were overdue for a lunch date. It had been ages since we gabbed over a plate of noodles (us Peyton sisters gravitate towards them) so Noodle Nami’s opening was the perfect excuse. The self proclaimed “casual noodle bar” resides in the former Pasta Plus location in Churchill Square, barely ressembling the previous tenant. The lower-level restaurant is brightly lit with trendy grey hues and shots of copper and natural wood. The two servers barely had time to great us in between busing empty tables and loafing giant bowls of ramen to office lunchers, so we felt lucky to get a seat.
As an off-shoot of the sushi chain Sushi Nami, which landed in St. John’s last year via Halifax, the menu maintains a chain feel. I get nervous when the offerings are significantly varied and this menu is certainly pan-Asian. From Japan’s golden child ramen to Vietnam’s pho and everything in between, there’s a whole lot of noodles to nosh. Street snacks like yakitori and golden balloons (deep fried dumplings) serve as appetizers in this bustling restaurant.
The Tonkotsu Ramen
I was craving ramen, so my mind was made up before I darkened the doorway of Noodle Nami. The Tonkotsu Ramen ($13.95) came to the table resplendent with pork, bamboo shoots, black mushroom corn and onions and the obliagatory soft boiled egg. I have to say I was impressed by the way it looked…the pork was juicy and full of flavour, which was a good runner up bite to the bland broth I basically inhaled the minute it came to the table. The noodles also lack the elasticity and homemade texture I come to expect from any respectable ramen joint.
The Shanghai Twist
Maggie mulled over the menu (say that three times fast), and decided on the Shanghai Twist ($14.50) with shrimp. The sauce, while coating the noodles well, lacked that pizzazz one expects in a stir fry. Both dishes were plentiful in volume — my noodles were endless — but lacked the sweet, salty heat I crave in Asian cuisine.
The slightly overwhelmed service was obviously due to the onslaught of lunch-goers from nearby eager for a new dining option in Churchill square. My verdict? Noodle Nami is a half-step above Wok Box and it’s got nothing on Bad Bones Ramen. Would I eat at Noodle Nami again? I would. Those first few months of a new restaurant are always tough and my noodle craving is never satisfied. Have I opened Pandora’s Box, unleashing my unyielding criticism of every restaurant I dine at?