With over 410 stores in 31 states, Noodles and Company has been rapidly expanding its outreach since it opened 20 years ago. After opening it’s first restaurant in Colorado, Noodles has seen an unprecedented growth in it’s popularity across the nation due to it’s affordable food, quick made-to-order service, and range of food options. Dubbed as “Your World Kitchen”, Noodles provides its patrons with varying noodle based dishes from across the globe. Ranging from classics such as Wisconsin Mac and Cheese, and Spaghetti and Meatballs to Japanese Pan Noodles and Indonesian Peanut Saute, your choices of international cuisine just can’t be beat. While Noodles offers diners an experience they would unlikely be able to get elsewhere, does the restaurant truly provide authentic, delicious international cuisine, living up to it’s slogan “Your World Kitchen”?
Restaurant reviewer Varmit Pickeral for Richmond.com doesn’t seem to think so. He had some strongly worded opinions about Noodles, calling the Penne Rosa “Americanized” with “bland, tomato cream sauce.” He then goes on to talk about the Wisconsin Mac and Cheese, one of Noodles most popular dishes saying “It was devoid of sharp cheddar or any flavor other than dairy fats. I’ve had better food in a Wisconsin airport. The Cheese Heads should sue for defamation.” Not everyone seems to share Varmits opinion though.
From the blog Brownies and Zucchinis, Kelly talks about her love for Noodles and Company. “Their Wisconsin Mac & Cheese was a delicious combination of stringy cheese and gooey cheese sauce.” She also praises the ability of being able to customize her choices. “With any dish you can add extra veggies or proteins of your choice to make it a dish you’ll love!” Unlike Varmit, Kelly seems to love Noodles, so who’s right?
Popular Austin food blogger Mcheng writes about Noodles from the perspective of a self proclaimed foodie saying “While I don’t typically consider large chain restaurants a part of my “beat” as a food blogger, I ultimately decided to cover it for two reasons. The first is because it’s new to the scene; and second, because – let’s face it – sometimes we need food quickly and on a budget, and I don’t know of any local business occupying the pasta-as-fast-food niche.” With a more ‘developed pallet’ Mcheng offers up a review to settle the debate: Does Noodles, in fact, offer up tasty internationally inspired dishes? Mcheng seems to think so. When talking about the Japanese Pan Noodles she says, “This dish had a stick-to-your-ribs quality to it that would be great in cold weather.” Then commenting on the Pad Thai, “Restaurant pad thai is invariably way too sweet for me. This version was no exception, although I’d say it held its own in the restaurant pad thai universe.” The dish that seemed to win Mcheng over though was Noodles Truffle Mac and Cheese, inspiring her to say, “YES. I loved this so much that I ordered some huge bowls of it with the cavatappi pasta (the curly pasta from the first salad) and served it to my Wine Club. Two of my friends who are excellent chefs took doggie bags home with them…a strong endorsement, indeed.”
While Varmit from Richmond.com may hold his own negative opinions about Noodles, it seems like the majority tend to think of this restaurant as a true gem amongst their neighborhood food options. Offering up quick, healthy and internationally inspired dishes, Noodles and Company seems to live up to its “Your World Kitchen” slogan by truly representing a variety of global cuisine.
I have traveled an eaten my way around the world and some of the dishes at Noodles claim to be international, but they are really just “inspired” and Americanized. I don’t like Noodles, I thought that I would be able to eat a piece of home in the chain, but I was severely disappointed.
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