On Church Street, Three Tomatoes serves spaghetti, and Smokejacks makes mac ‘n’ cheese, but Asiana House owner Sandy Kong sees ample room for an Eastern option. In November, she and partner Noppawan Charoenrat will open Asiana Noodle Shop in the subterranean spot formerly occupied by Paradise Burrito and Baja Jack’s.
Right now, the small space is in the midst of a redesign. “We’re making it more Asian style inside. The first time I went inside I felt this pressure, because the ceiling was so low and it was so dark,” Kong recalls. To lighten the mood, the ceiling has been painted white and the walls a pale green. A bamboo garden will add to the “mellow” vibe.
Another change: The bar is gone. “We took it out,” Kong explains. “We’re serving beer, wine and sake, but no hard liquor. I don’t think people need liquor.”
But they do need food, and hungry patrons will be able to dig their chopsticks into 20 different appetizers, as well as sample Thai curries and classic rice dishes. Or they can try DIY. The “Cargo Noodles” option, named after a dish famous in Hong Kong, allows eaters to select from a list of broths, noodles and meats to create unique blends.
According to Kong, ANB will provide six different broths, including miso, Korean kimchi and spicy, herbal Tom Yum versions. “We’ve spent a lot of time creating the different broths and making them interesting,” she professes. There will be various noodles, too, such as buckwheat soba, rice thread and udon. Proteins include chicken, tofu, squid and shrimp.
Will the new eatery compete with Asiana House? “I don’t think so,” Kong says. “At Asiana House we concentrate on the sushi bar; we’re experts at sushi. At this one, we’ll concentrate on noodles.” And unlike AH, which offers deep-fried entrées such as agemono and tempura, ANB will stick with lighter fare. “I think people should eat more healthy,” Kong muses.
She predicts the cuisine will also be easy on people’s pocketbooks. At many area restaurants, she guesses, “For two people, it’s $60, easy.” At ANB, Kong promises, a couple will be able to snag apps, entrées and a glass of sake apiece for between $30 and $35.
“Some people were saying, ‘You know the economy is so bad, why are you opening a new place?’ ” Kong relates. But she believes that the low prices, speedy service and healthy fare will keep the crowds coming.