Friends and foodies, I’m here to tell you there’s a new star in the noodle galaxy. Qui Tran, has opened his second noodle shop. (His first name is pronounced “Kwee,”) The gregarious chef/entrepreneur grew up working in his family’s Vietnamese restaurant, that opened on Delmar more than 20 years ago and has since moved to Eager Road near Best Buy.
A few years ago, Qui opened Nudo in Creve Coeur and began serving soul soothing bowl of noodles. That year Food and Wine featured the noodle joint on the cover of their Comfort Food issue! Now Qui is back on Delmar, this time in The Loop, with the opening of a second Nudo House.
So off to Nudo I went with Russ and my grandson, Austin. As we walked in, I expected to hear a giant sucking sound from so many people slurping noodles at the same time. I immediately spotted the well-lit and easily read menu, that hung over the counter. Two small computer screens faced customers showing them a running total as they ordered.
Upon paying, diners can select from tables in the window, the long communal table, or those for two to four diners. Happily, orders appear within minutes. Kudos to Qui for streamlining ordering and table delivery.
So what did we order from such a tantalizing menu? The pho, curry, ramen, banh mi sandwich? When going to a new place, I usually check out the offerings on line. I had already decided on chicken curry and egg rolls, and that sounded good to Russ as well. Austin went with the beef ramen and wontons.
As the new “kid” on the block, Nudo was out to impress. Servers were all smiles and mingled pleasantly with customers. Qui was at another location that night, even so things appeared to be running smoothly.
Being family, we nibbled from each other’s plates. Our tastes don’t always match, but this time we came up with the same conclusion: Qui had put together some crazy tasty noodle bowls. We asked about the banh mi sandwich, that looked so good in the photos. Obviously, a lot of people thought the same thing, because by evening they had run out of the banh mi rolls.
When I inquired about the soft ice cream someone came to our table to explain the varieties. There were two that evening, the young woman said: Oreo-Black Garlic and Vegan Mango. Chocoholic that I am, I was saddened to hear the exotic had won out over the traditional. (But then Ben and Jerry’s is down the street, for those of my ilk.)
But Black Garlic? What’s that all about? Austin, our family gourmet, explained it was a garlic, that had turned black from being aged for several weeks to two months. While we discussed the physics of the Maillard reaction, Russ solved the ice cream selection by ordering one of each variety and three spoons.
Wow! Was I ever surprised. They were both delicious! No garlicky flavor, but more of a soft, molasses-like aftertaste. Austin also had one of the many fruit drinks. I had a sip; it was refreshing without being sugary.
Put this one on your bucket list.
(left) Qui Tran and business partner Marie-Anne Velasco
Nudo House. 6105-A Delmar Blvd. in The East Loop. Open: Tue-Thu 11a-9p; Fri-Sat 11a-10p; Sun noon-9p; Closed on Monday. Chef: Chris Ladley. Creve Coeur location: 11423 Olive Blvd. Chef, Marie-Anne Velasco.
Note: For a heartwarming account of the Tran family’s incredible journey to America, take time to read this inspiring story in St. Louis Magazine.