Dining Out: Noodles & Co.

Talk about self-explanatory. We were in that confusing web of roads that makes up the Roseville Mall complex last Saturday night wondering “Where is this place?” Then we saw a big sign that said, simply, “Noodles.”

Inside? Noodles. This growing chain offers three basic menus—American, Asian and Italian. Small plates are $4.25, bigger ones are $5.25, add $ 2 for meat. What could be simpler? This is a sit-down, counter service place, but it moves with the kind of efficiency you might expect of the fast-food place.

Though maybe they should call it “Pot Stickers.” We started with this non-noodle “& Co.” appetizer, and all agreed it was the standout of the meal. They were flattened and fried, with fresh-tasting pork inside, just the right amount of spicy.

The big plates didn’t look that big, but we all left decently full without being bloated. On the balance, I appreciated the low price. This breaks with a trend of chain restaurants keeping prices high by overloading you with way more than you need. The economics of federal food subsidies make it profitable to chains to give you way more food for a little more money, and I applaud Noodles for going the other way.

We all went Asian, so I have no idea what the mac n’ cheese or pasta cavatappi taste like. I ordered the Indonesian peanut noodles—rice noodles with broccoli, sprouts, carrots, etc. This showed two chili peppers beside it on the menu. They weren’t kidding. I’m normally near the high end of spice tolerance for a white guy, but I kept having to sip my drink and take breaks to get through this one. I went against the recommended meat choice and got beef instead of chicken, which contrasted nicely with the sweetness of the sauce.

Jonathan, the super-tall (probably about 6’6”), friendly and energetic manager on duty that night told me that the Indonesian noodles were quite popular—but that it seemed to be ordered most often by Asian customers, who may have grown up on more spice than I did.

He said the most popular dish was what I probably should have ordered, the Japanese pan fried noodles. I got to try them, and they were great. The noodles were slightly caramelized, without being too sweet—again, very good with beef. Other folks at our table had that traditional Thai standby, the pad thai. It was very good, though more the kind of thing you might find at a lot of different restaurants.

The Colorado-based chain was founded in 1995, and has been expanding recently. While there is not yet a downtown location, they’ll have a new outlet opening near Sacramento State University later this spring. Noodles also made it onto Health Magazines list of healthiest fast-food restaurants the last two years.

Noodles & Co.
The Fountains at Roseville
1186 Roseville Parkway
(916) 780 1441
Sunday through Wednesday 11 am to 9 pm
Thursday through Saturday 11 am to 10 pm

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