Sunday, April 16, 2006

Noodle Avenue - Tustin



Noodle soup is warm sustenance for the stomach, comfort food for the soul -- but above all, it's a cheap, hot meal for cold, wet weather.

At Noodle Avenue** in Tustin, a steaming bowl of it is brought to me faster than an In-N-Out Double-Double takes to cook and is ten times more satisfying during a downpour.

My current addiction is their House Noodle Soup ($4.75), which like the other noodle soups they offer, comes with a question: Will it be udon, thin rice, wide rice, or egg noodle?

I chose egg noodle. The canary yellow strands, as thin as angel hair but with more bounce and body, is submerged in a shimmering broth -- a hot soup bright yellow and clear with flavor culled and coaxed from simmering pork and chicken. On the side, always, is a plate of raw bean sprouts and a wedge of lime for squeezing.

Then on go the toppings.

What I like best about the House Noodle is that it comes with a little bit of everything.

First, there are the meat balls. Formed into pinball-sized orbs from a mousse of pureed beef and tapioca starch, these pasty grey spheres bob like buoys and are just as springy when bitten. Functioning more as a textural foil, they are mild in flavor.

Chicken comes in the form of blanched, thin slices as spongy and wispy as a cloud. The white meat shavings playfully float along with floppy, rectangular pieces of fish cake, itself stark white and pock-marked with air holes.

Curled in a fetal repose and as pink as a cherub are the steamed shrimp. There are three swimming in the broth, each jiggly and crystal fresh.

Think that it ends there? Not yet.

There's the pork, which comes in two styles; a thick dark slice from a roasted loin and pebble-sized nuggets of the ground meat. The latter dots the broth, lending a coarse but meaty chew, while the former is reminiscent of tender char siu.

A garnish of chopped scallions, golden fried bits of garlic, and cilantro completes this cold weather remedy in a bowl. But the MVP is the garlic. These flavor crystals burst with enough power and punch to make the town of Gilroy proud. But more importantly, it imparts a distinctively pungent sweetness to the broth.

With my mouth straddling the brim, the wide bowl slowly eclipses my face as I tilt it to guzzle the soup down to the very last drop.

I smacked my lips and let out a satisfied sigh. Outside, rain pelted the ground, but I was warm and full.



Noodle Avenue
(714) 505-9070
13816 Red Hill Ave
Tustin, CA 92780

**UPDATE: 8/6/2008. Noodle Avenue has closed.

22 Comments:

At 1:52 AM, Blogger Seth Chadwick said...

First off, elmo, I see you are still killing crustaceans with reckless abandon. Cad!

Anyway, the soup looks delicious and I am jealous. Soup like that sees its heyday in Phoenix about once a year when we have a frosty dip in the temperature as the thermometer plunges to a frigid 50 degrees. Brrrr.

Otherwise, it is just too hot in Phoenix to enjoy it without having to wring out our buttondown Oxford cotton dress shirt before returning to work.

I shall endeavor to live vicariously through your soup travels, however.

:o)

 
At 1:13 PM, Blogger Passionate Eater said...

"Lip-smackingly" delicious post! Your words made me warm inside. When I am cold in the bay area, I am just going to read this post again, rather than getting myself a bowl of hot soup. This post is infinitely more satisfying.

 
At 1:34 PM, Anonymous Kirk said...

Hey Elmo - Looks like you've got the solution to the cold and rain in SoCal. So what kind of noodle shop is this? The 'Mi' looks Vietnamese, but they have Udon too.....

 
At 9:16 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Seth,

Guilty as charged. More sea creatures met their deaths to feed my hunger. Can you hear the little high-pitched yelps of anguish!? ;-)

Noodle soup is definitely something I have to my fill of before it gets too hot. I perspire at the sight of a chili pepper, so anything like noodle soup would put me over the edge too in balmy weather.

PE,

Aw thanks! But I'd be constantly full of noodle soup if I lived in such a brisk climate as the Bay Area...my kind of weather!

Kirk,

I can't confirm it, but the noodles I had are, I think, better known as Chiu Chow style. The place is owned by Vietnamese and serves stir fried dishes in sort of a Vietnamese-influenced Chinese/American cuisine. The noodle soups are probably the most authentic items on the menu though.

 
At 10:37 AM, Blogger Diamond Dog said...

I like this place too. I dont understand how they stay in business because its always dead when I go in there. If you cant decide on what kind of noodles you want, you can always combine different noodles

 
At 5:17 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Diamond Dog,

Yeah, almost always empty when I go too. But this time, it was raining, and man, it was packed...okay "packed" is the wrong word...the place was 1/4 filled to capacity. Okay 1/6.

 
At 7:25 PM, Anonymous hbgrrl said...

So here I thought I was safe from hunger pangs reading you after I ate dinner.

Guess again!

As soon as I saw that glorious bowl of soup pop up, my mouth instantly salivated. The description of your meal made it non-stop.

In spite of our now, sunny skies and warmer temps, a bowl of soup still sounds amazingly comforting.

 
At 7:42 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

hbgrrl,

When I saw the forecast for this week as being sunny, no chance of showers, I thought, "Aww, no soup noodles for me this week." But I'm kidding myself, I'll probably be slurping it up again before Friday hits! :-p

 
At 9:56 AM, Blogger Christine D. said...

I think the only way that they stay in business is because of my sister. She goes there almost everyday!! ok, maybe once a week on average...

Have you tried their fried cream cheese wontons? We love them! But the dipping sauce is too thin.

I also love the container of fresh green chilis. I always fill a box up with them. I'm only satisfied with my noodle soup when i'm done eating and i have a runny nose and 3 empty cups of water. :)

 
At 2:04 PM, Anonymous Can said...

Thanks Elmomonster for the rec. I have always thought OC to be a culinary wasteland (as quoted from CH) but your blogs always give me hope. I'm always in the mood for good Asian food and I figured I would only get it going towards SGV or battling the 22 to get to Little Saigon. I hope to visit Noodle Avenue very very soon! Thanks again!

 
At 5:52 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Christine,

I've avoided ordering the fried cream cheese wontons, but I think I may have to try it the next time I go. Hear that sound? That's the sound of my arteries hardening.

Can,

Thanks for dropping by! The Noodle Soup is definitely what you want to be ordering. My friend ordered the Beef Crispy Noodle and he said it was bland. I told him he should've stuck to the Noodle Soups. Cheaper too!

 
At 7:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the OG restaurant is in westminster and it's called Trieu Chau off of westminster and brookhurts. The same owners. At the original location you can get a combination of noodle types with the house special and they don't charge you extra! the tustin one is still good.

 
At 6:52 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Anon,

That's it! Trieu Chau, I knew this Tustin branch is an offshoot of something more popular in Westminster. Just couldn't put a finger on what it was. Till now!

 
At 10:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This noodle haven is air conditioned and super clean and cheap and soooooooooo good and filling and has so many choices.
I finally went there yesterday and felt so satisfied with the house special bowl that I have to say =
if you are tired of our hot weather lately-treat yourself to some noodle soup with the fresh, raw bean sprouts, cabbage and a squeeze of lime with the thin rice noodles. Something about eating light, moist (ok soup) when it is hot makes my gut happy-and I'm not asian-but want to say try this place...inexpensive and relaxing and courteous FAST service....fresh
Go check it out on Redhill Blvd just north of the 5 fwy.

 
At 10:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the roast duck noodles are super!

 
At 12:12 PM, Anonymous Bruce said...

Elmo's review was great, but you all should read this one for the full effect: http://www.ocweekly.com/food/this-hole-in-the-wall-life/this-hole-in-the-wall-life/25035/ He's right about the green curry soup--have it with udon, it's my favorite, too!

 
At 12:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I moved out of OC a year and a half ago to a place that doesn't have asian food. Noodle Avenue is the first place I crave when I land on the west coast. I take pictures of the bowl of noodles just to adore when I fly away.

Here's one of my favorite toppings: Over by the soda fountain, there are green chiles in vinegar. If you dip the meatballs or shrimp into this sauce, it is SOOOO good.

P.S. - Do any of you remember a Chieu Chau noodle place in Santa Ana or Tustin that was big, dark, dingy, and ALWAYS had christmas tinsel up? I'm not sure if they've close or are still open.

Thanks!

 
At 5:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

been to the place, good food, reasonable prices, if this were in a different location they might see some serious $$$$$....

 
At 9:33 PM, Anonymous Eve said...

I'm proud to say my friend's dad owns this place. The House Noodle really is delicious - I always choose the wide rice noodle. Very filling. Be sure to try the eggrolls; they are delish.
Great entry by the way...you make the contents of the noodle more mouthwatering than they actually are. :D

 
At 12:43 AM, Blogger Pepsi Monster said...

This is awesome! I'm always on the lookout for cool places for noodles. Thanks!

 
At 11:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The food is OK. However, you got to start taking credit cards with no minimum charge. Sorry to stereotype but stop being so Chinesse! Pay taxes like the rest of the American and Mexican restaurants!!

 
At 12:20 AM, Anonymous Josh said...

I believe the place has already closed down. I hate to say it, but I can't really say its that big of a loss. The food was just okay, and never anything really special.

 

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