With a few minor tweaks, hard to beat
COLUMBIA, 1/12/12 (Diners Dish) -- As the parent of two noodle-loving teenagers, when I heard about Crazy Noodle, the latest offering from the owners of the hipster-chic Kampai Sushi, I knew we would be giving it a try.
Sure enough, the following weekend we headed downtown for our first visit to Columbia’s newest noodle restaurant.
Crazy Noodle is housed in one of the newly remodeled buildings on Broadway and makes good use of the tall, narrow space with both ground floor and balcony seating. The simple, stark, white walls are adorned with stenciled tree branches that have a traditional Chinese feel, juxtaposed against brightly colored, acrylic, Sixties-esque Japanese mod fixtures – think “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Mario Brothers.”
Pros: The menu options were plentiful.
The appetizer dumplings were ordinary, but good with the special sauce. The house salad was a nice bed of fresh greens topped with a coarsely-ground, possibly carrot-based, ginger puree. Although a far cry from the creamy ginger dressing commonly found at sushi restaurants, this homemade ginger dressing was light, spicy and refreshing. Not bad for $4!
But we came for noodles! The customizable noodle menu was fun and workable for both me and my sometimes picky teenagers. The soups were served in large bowls in the tradition of the Japanese ramen restaurants that became popular in the 80’s. My teenagers enjoyed the beef soup and had fun fishing the various ingredients from the broth with their chopsticks. I opted for the extra hot, red curry sauce with rice noodles and scallops. Not only am I a red curry addict, I am a red curry snob and Crazy Noodle did not disappoint.
The sauce was a delightful mix of curry, coconut milk, peppers, bamboo shoots, basil and pineapple. I will order this again. As a rule, I always measure the service by my water glass, especially when enjoying spicy food. The wait staff kept a close eye on our table and our water glasses.
Cons: The atmosphere needs a little attention.
Music seemed to be coming from the kitchen, mixed with the sound of the exhaust fan. The open floor plan made it difficult to enjoy much privacy. We were able to listen to conversation from two tables away -- not a deal breaker, but certainly a detractor.
Overall: The food is good and reasonably priced, the menu has options to fit all tastes, and the atmosphere is hip. With a few minor tweaks, Crazy Noodle will be hard to beat.
-- Mystery Reviewer
904 E. Broadway