Why Noodle Zoo?
Josh: I had an appointment so I took the day off. Just like last year when we went to Tsing Tsao, I took a day off and took Grace to lunch. She has a new job so we had new restaurants to choose from. Noodle Zoo was her choice!
Grace: Josh had the day off, which NEVER happens (except Thanksgiving break…and winter break…and spring break…and summer break…I’m not bitter) and he asked me if I wanted to go to lunch, my choice. I wasn’t going to say no. Noodle Zoo is right by my work and is one of my favorite lunch spots, so I wanted him to try it!
Josh: I got what was called a “Noodle Bowl” (it’s a bowl of noodles if you’re wondering). My particular Noodle Bowl was the “Herb Crusted Chicken” tossed with Fettuccini in a cilantro cream. Cool.
The best part about this meal is you get a salad and bread with it. Quantity > Everything. The salad was extremely good. It has some kind of dressing that was very good (Grace said it was Caesar but y’all know I can’t Rome without Caesar)
Yeah, that was an extremely forced Kanye lyric but we’ll get ’em next time.
The salad had freaking noodles in it!! Who does that?! They were these weird brain looking noodles and they were dope. The salad was one of the highlights of the meal by far.
The pasta itself was pretty tasty. The chicken was very flavorful and I really liked the seasoning on it. The regular-looking noodles were well cooked as well. The one issue I had was the sauce. It wasn’t as flavorful as I would have liked it to be. It was a little bland but not so bland that it was awful.
The bread was bread. It had some garlic aspect to it but it could have used more. It was also a tad on the dry side. I used it to soak up the remaining sauce in my bowl.
Grace: I got the Linguini with Fresh Spinach and Tomato, and had them add Herbed Chicken to it as well. That’s a pretty self-explanatory title. The pasta was tossed in olive oil, garlic, oregano, and other delicious Italian spices. It’s a simple, tasty, relatively healthy lunch for a great price; generous portions keep you (me) full all afternoon and it’s perfect on a chilly fall day.
What I love about Noodle Zoo is that you also get a salad and bread with your meal, and it’s all so good. They have one of my favorite Caesar Salads; it’s extremely garlicky and stays with you all afternoon, but it’s so worth it. Also the only place I’ve ever had noodles in my Caesar Salad. No complaints there.
Their garlic bread is also delicious, and comes out warm from the grill. Again, just a really good, filling lunch.
Atmosphere, Service, Price
Grace: Noodle Zoo originated in Ankeny (I think) and their decor is very…Ankeny. I don’t know how else to describe it. Suburban? I don’t know. Just look at the photos. I think the decor could be freshened up a lot, but it’s not like the place is dirty or anything. Personal preference.
At Noodle Zoo, you order at the counter and then they bring your food to you. I like this setup for lunch – it’s way quicker. The guy behind the counter and the guy who brought our food out were both very nice, and like I said earlier, the prices are great. Definitely a good, quick spot to have lunch!
Josh: First thing: I always assumed this was a chain. I thought that Noodle Zoo was found everywhere in America. Turns out I was thinking of Noodles and Company. Turns out that Noodle Zoo and Noodles and Company are not the same thing. Huh.
Second: I had no idea this place was in the East Village. I’ve walked by this place numerous times and never noticed it. They don’t really have a big sign announcing where they are. They’re just kind of there.
Noodle Zoo is pretty cool inside. The decor is neat and spacious. I imagine all the businessmen and businesswomen coming down to Noodle Zoo is their little suits enjoying a corporate lunch. Living the dream.
The prices are good and the workers were very friendly. Give this non-chain noodle place a try! Noodles.
Josh: The downtown location closed. You’ll have to go to their Johnston location instead.
Josh: Damn. Noodle Zoo closed all of their doors for good.