Welcome to Asian Noodles of Reno, NV!
The Reno Gazette Journal's Review of Asian Noodles:
If you need proof that Northern Nevada’s appetite for pho remains unsated, look no further than Asian Noodles.
Since it opened last fall, the restaurant has brimmed with an outstandingly motley crew of diners tucking into steaming bowls of classic Vietnamese noodle soup: students, shoppers, retired couples, singletons, lunching ladies, tourists, business types, Vietnamese families (always a good sign), and airmen, lots of airmen from the nearby National Guard facility at the airport.
If you arrive during peak lunch or dinner hours, you might wait for one of the 20 or so tables. As an early adopter of Asian Noodles, I’m thrilled for the Vietnamese-American clan that owns the restaurant, but I’m also peeved (as people irrationally are) that my secret has been discovered.
Ah, well, the pho (pronounced fuh, not foe) is worth the wait. Its fragrant broth delivers rich, deep flavor that doesn’t sacrifice any essential subtlety or delicacy. This balanced depth tells me the kitchen properly roasts the beef bones used to make the stock.
Some diners at Asian Noodles order only pho, understandably seduced by fresh basil, ribbons of steak and snarls of rice vermicelli. But the menu provides other noodle diversions.
Sliced beef tops a nest of crisp pan-fried noodles. When they’re tossed with beef and sauce, the noodles yield, but they never lose their snap. Limp noodles, a result of wok oil insufficiently heated, ruin this dish at many restaurants.
Egg noodle soups, chockablock with seafood, chicken or barbecued pork, offer a change from the rice noodles of pho.
And then there is bun bo Hue (roughly pronounced boon boe WAY), a moderately spicy beef soup from central Vietnam that anyone who wants to move beyond pho should try. The soup takes its name from Hue, the old imperial capital of the country. Paprika and lemongrass are used to compose its broth; the first provides an aromatic kick, the other, the soup’s signature color. Within, thick rice noodles coil around beef shank, sliced pork trotter and spongy slices of pork loaf.
A cube of poached pork blood, mildly flavored, garnishes the bun bo Hue, as is traditional. I admire chef Michael Lai for not diluting his heritage, but if you don’t want blood, just tell one of the friendly servers (who don’t mind special requests like selling a bag of pho garnishes for $1).
Elsewhere on the menu, fresh tasting spring rolls quiver with mint, and I like the loose dipping sauce spiked with minced red chilis. Charbroiled shrimp and pork over rice noodles nicely balances sweet with fire, but two shrimp isn’t enough. A chicken salad appetizer, however, is outstanding: Sweet-spicy dressing made from fish sauce, sugar, vinegar and red chilis knits together slivers of cabbage, basil, chicken and jots of fried shallot.
Beyond its namesake dishes, Asian Noodles excels, too.
From the RENO GAZETTE JOURNAL
1290 #I East Plumb Lane
Reno, NV 89502