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Noodie Asian Noodles & Rice Bowls: A Fun, Simple, From-Scratch Menu

Noodie Asian Noodles & Rice Bowls, a new West Hartford spot for ramen and other Asian specialties, is the relaxed, quick-service concept co-owner Matt Malahan always wanted.

“We almost set up Hot Basil this way,” says Malahan of the sit-down Thai restaurant he and his wife, Juntimar, opened on New Park Avenue in 2006. “We’ve always wanted to do fast-casual Asian.”

Last year, the Malahans decided to convert HB Seafood, their small clam-shack style restaurant on New Britain Avenue, into a modern noodle bar with Korean, Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese dishes.

HB Seafood opened in 2014, offering lobster rolls, fried shellfish platters and fish tacos, but Matt Malahan says the business ultimately proved to be too seasonal, as the majority of customers would just dine there in the summertime. “The winters were just too long,” he says.

In the summer of 2017, with the coming winter in mind, Malahan spent several months perfecting recipes for ramen broth, teriyaki sauce and other specialties he hoped to serve on his new menu. They ran some of the dishes on the specials menu at Hot Basil to test them out with customers.

The Malahans took a few weeks to make the transition, renovating the space with new paint, fresh artwork and new decor. They reopened in mid-December as Noodie Asian Noodles & Rice Bowls, taking inspiration from the name of a restaurant they visited in Bangkok.

“It’s healthy, made from scratch, simple — I think it’s a fun menu,” Malahan says.

FEATURED/NOTEWORTHY DISHES: The Malahans have long-established their expertise in Thai cooking, but the Noodie menu is “completely different,” Matt says, as they’ve set themselves apart by offering a variety of Asian cuisines.

The menu features several small plates ($4 to $11): Korean fried chicken wings with gochujang and fried garlic, pork dumplings with soy-chili sauce, edamame, bao with chashu pork shoulder and veggie spring rolls with lemongrass-soy dipping sauce. Rice bowls ($8 to $8.50), with steamed veggies, are topped with marinated chicken thigh or fried tofu and choice of housemade sauce: ginger teriyaki, peanut, sweet chili or mild yellow coconut curry.

Noodie also offers three types of ramen ($11 and $12), hearty soups with housemade broths and fresh noodles delivered twice a week from a Brooklyn vendor. A shoyu variety, with soy-laced pork and chicken broth and pork shoulder, was an early favorite, Malahan says, but the vegetarian spicy miso broth and chili-spiced Sichuan selections have been selling more in recent months. Vietnamese pho ga with chicken will soon be replaced by a cold rice vermicelli dish with grilled pork and spring rolls.

As spring approaches, Noodie will add new small plates to complement its new bubble tea offerings (milk or iced tea in a variety of flavors, with tapioca pearls.) In May, Malahan says, they’ll introduce a shaved ice machine from Taiwan, serving sweet treats with Asian dessert toppings.

The restaurant currently sells beer and wine, but BYOB is permitted. Delivery is available on UberEats.

HOURS: Noodie is open Monday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Noodie Asian Noodles & Rice Bowls is at 1142 New Britain Avenue in West Hartford. 860-206-9466 and facebook.com/noodieasian.

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