Last night we decided to go check out the new Crazy Noodle on Madison. It's in the spot previously occupied by Umai, next door to Kwik Check. They had their soft opening last week and people were already buzzing, so I figured we should check it out. We like noodles.
My understanding is that the owner of the Kwik Check now also owns Crazy Noodle. The inside hasn't been changed at all--at least not as far as I can tell. I think that's a smart move since Ken, the previous restauranteur, put a ton of work into the decor.
We arrived a little after six and there were just a couple of other tables. An asian woman was busy cooking in the open kitchen, her sous chef was busy talking to her, and the host/waiter (I presumed) was busy ringing up a ticket at the end of the bar. We all just stood around waiting to be noticed. A woman at the table nearest the bar finally said, "Go sit down. That's what they told us to do."
I replied, "Ok, thanks. I just want to make sure they see us."
Our conversation caused the sous chef to look up, so I waved a little and motioned that we were going into the dining room. All of the tables had two chairs at them which posed a small problem. Since the tables were fairly big, we just grabbed two chairs from another table and sat down.
There were no menus or silverware or napkins on the table, so we just sat and waited. A few minutes later the waiter came over and took our drink order. Personally, I think it's nice to have a menu before ordering a drink, but that's just me. I had a few moments to peruse the beer cooler while we stood by the front door, so I went ahead and ordered a New Castle. Everyone else got waters.
Our waiter brought out drinks and menus a few minutes later and we started figuring out what to order. The menu is fairly small, which I think is smart for a new restaurant. A lot of the dishes were unfamiliar sounding, so it was nice to have a photo next to each item.
It became clear pretty quickly that there wasn't anything especially kid-friendly. "I don't think I like any of this," Jiro (age 7) said. Since he hadn't had much to eat that afternoon, I didn't think he'd be able to skip dinner. I called the waiter over and asked if he would ask the chef if she would mind serving him some plain noodles or maybe some noodles with a mild sauce. He checked with her and quickly reported that it would be no problem.
Meanwhile, Warren declared that he was getting the Bi Bim Beef, which is what I had my eye on. So, I went with my back up--curry noodles. A lot of the dishes were pretty...uh...authentic? Lots of squid and other ingredients that most of us Memphians don't willingly order on a regular basis. I expected Warren to be more adventurous, but I have learned not to try and influence what he orders. Satchel (age 9) eventually decided on Beef Noodle Soup. There was some discussion of whether it was spicy and I remember the waiter saying that maybe we could use it to spice up Jiro's plain noodles. And that was that.
We'd heard that service was a little slow, so I went ahead and gave Jiro my notebook to draw in. Prior to that he was busying himself trying to hide my purse and sneak sips of my beer.
"What's so good about beer?" Satchel asked me.
"Uh...it makes me feel good," I said sheepishly before changing the subject.
Our waiter gave us lots of updates on when our food would be out, which was nice. The restaurant was getting progressively more crowded as we waited and I was glad that we came early. There definitely weren't any other families, and it seemed almost scenester-ish. I'm wondering if that was just due to friends and family of the owners/workers coming out to show their support.
Most of us were very patient, but Jiro was very hungry. And hyper. "It makes me hyper when I don't get to eat," he noted, stating the obvious.
Soon after our food came and everyone was happy. "This is actually on the house," the waiter said as he put Jiro's plate of noodles down. Jiro asked what the other stuff was and he said egg. That was all Jiro needed to hear before digging in.
Not the world's most exciting dinner, but he ate it all.
(Please excuse the horrid photos. It's really dark in the dining room.)
Satchel's beef noodle soup looked lovely.
He was a bit put off by all of the stuff so he asked Warren if he would eat some of it first. He obliged. "This is really bland," he noted. "Yeah, I thought so too," said Satchel. I guessed that maybe they went ahead and made it not spicy since it was for a kid, but later when the chef came out to check on us she seemed worried it was too spicy and said, "Next time tell them it is for a baby and I won't make it spicy."
Warren's Bi Bim Beef looked and tasted great. (Although I have to say that the Bi Bim Bop next door at Kwik Check is way better.)
My curry noodles were also good. When I remarked that they tasted like the curry Warren makes, he immediately wanted to switch with me. That was fine by me. Satchel also wanted some of the curry, so we had a definite case of musical plates going on.
Just so you know, Warren uses a mix when he makes Japanese curry. Either they use the same mix or they make it exactly like the mix. Warren liked it, as did Satchel, but the former didn't like paying to eat something he makes at home. He actually said that he should have ordered for everyone, which is a first. I look forward to taking him up on that.
Regardless, there was a LOT of happy slurping going on at the table. It was cute.
Eventually Satchel resorted to taking the noodles out of his soup and mixing them in leftover curry sauce.
While I think everything was pretty good, I would have liked the noodles to be warm. I think the idea is to mix them with the sauce and therefore warm them up, but it still made for plenty of cold bites.
Warren thought that a place named Crazy Noodle should offer more than one kind of noodle (and that they should be made in-house). HIS noodle restaurant would certainly do both. (And do it well, I'm sure.)
Who knows, maybe they did make the noodles. Maybe they will offer more varieties once they find their groove.
I have nothing against starting out slow.
Most of the noodle dishes are priced at $8.99. Our total bill was $38.75, which included two beers.
I hope to see Crazy Noodle grow and flourish. I'm happy to see the space being used, and happy to see that people are coming in already to support them.
However, next time I think we'll definitely just go to Kwik Check.