Johnston residents and workers can rejoice: we now have our own Noodle Zoo that opened about a month ago on Chambery Boulevard. (The founding location is in the East Village and there is also a restaurant in Ankeny.) My husband and I stopped in for an after-work dinner recently. Black lacquered tables and chairs are arranged on a floor brightly-painted in a pattern I recognized from the other Noodle Zoo locations.
The menu offers a selection of salads, sandwiches and noodle bowls at prices ranging from $7.50 to $12.95. Kelly chose the Parmesan grill sandwich with roast beef ($8.75). Sandwiches are served with the signature house salad or soup of the day. He chose the beer cheese soup, which I recommended after enjoying it at the East Village location. I ordered the Thai chicken pasta ($10.25) with the choice of mild, medium or spicy levels. I decided to go middle of the road.
Much is made of presentation on the countless cooking shows on TV, and Noodle Zoo takes presentation seriously. Our meals were served on brightly-colored dishes. The golden brown grilled bread of Kelly’s sandwich and the colorful medley of my noodle bowl were as tempting as the aromas of the food. Kelly’s reaction to the first bite of his sandwich was “Oh, my God!” It was that good. The Parmesan cheese bread was grilled to a light crunch, the roast beef was warm and the Swiss cheese was deliciously melted. The sandwich was more than the sum of its parts. The beer cheese soup had a pleasant consistency, a bit of heat and a hearty flavor.
My dinner featured sauteed chicken on linguini with Asian spices, crisp cabbage slaw and cilantro. Shredded mozzarella and peanuts were sprinkled over the top. The spice level was just right. The chicken was incredibly tender and the mozzarella was a nice surprise. Kelly finished his meal with a slice of cheesecake ($5.50). Three things stood out: the beautiful presentation, the reasonable size of the slice and the fact that it wasn’t stone cold, as some restaurant desserts can be. It was the perfect end to a lovely meal.
By Kathleen Summy
Reprinted courtesy of Johnston Living Magazine March 2016