Brandon Hernández 9 a.m., March 11
$10 Lunch: Noodles & Company
I was a bit confused when I first went into the Noodles & Company at Sports Arena and Rosecrans (other local locations include San Marcos, Encinitas, and at University Towne Centre). I knew the place had noodles, obviously, but that was all I knew.
Turns out, their menu is separated into three categories: American, Asian, and Mediterranean. Each category offers salads and sandwiches as well as noodle dishes such as macaroni-and-cheese, stroganoff, spaghetti, and Japanese pan noodles. That's easy enough.
What I didn’t understand was why there was no pricing next to the dishes. It took me a minute, but I figured it out.
It goes like this:
You start with a bowl, either “small” ($4.25) or “regular” ($5.35). If you pick small, the guy behind the counter will tell you “a regular gives you twice as much food for only $1.10 more.” For this price, you can get any item on the menu (Pad Thai, Penne Rosa, etc) except those marked otherwise. And on the menu, written in red lettering, you’ll see suggestions such as, “Try this with marinated steak,” or “Try this with sautéed shrimp,” which will add to the price. You can also add soup or salad for $1 more.
In my case, I went with the small bowl of Japanese pan noodles with marinated skirt steak (add $2.65). The meat had a fine consistency. It was soft, but cooked through. The sauce on the noodles had a good kick, tempered by the cool sprouts, but it made for a terrible combination (my fault) with the fizzy blackberry Izze ($2.25) I bought to accompany my meal.
I’d probably venture to try other dishes on the menu before I’d go back and order this dish again. I found it a bit heavy on the sauce side. It overpowered the noodles.
I have a soft-spot for buttered egg noodles, so next time I’m in that area, I might pop in and give them a try. They might be great with that skirt steak.
Also, it was a plus to see that although it’s an order-at-the-counter venue, they don’t use disposable plates or utensils. Everything but the chopsticks is wash-and-use-again.
Total bill: $9.96