Amuse-Bouche: Noodles 102
Recently, Ives Street has undergone something of a renaissance, making it a nice alternative to Wayland Square and Wickenden when you’re looking for a quick jaunt from campus. Located a block past Governor, it’s now home to a smorgasbord of locally owned businesses. Noodles 102 offers Asian fare of all sorts to Ivesgoers.
Noodles 102 is distinctive for its menu, which is a sort of umbrella for Asian food: think greatest hits of Japanese/Chinese/Thai plus some curveballs, like hard-boiled eggs simmered in a spiced tea broth. It’s sort of all over the map (especially considering the owner is Turkish), but it’s hard to complain when lettuce wraps, miso soup, and pad thai are all in the same place.
Entrées are choose-your-own-adventure, either in the form of noodles or claypot baked rice. First, pick add-ons from beef, chicken, shrimp, or veggies. Noodle options are dizzying and plenty, including udon, soba, and black rice (which is allegedly made fresh by a Cranston-based vendor). For a noodle bowl, choose between coconut curry, spicy miso, vegetarian, and chicken broth. Alternatively is the bee bong, a Vietnamese dish of noodles plunked atop lettuce, scallions, and bean sprouts with a spicy-sweet coconut peanut sauce. Should you take the rice route, you get to pick from ginger basil scallion, ginger oyster, Szechuan BBQ, and Thai curry coconut sauces, which are served over jasmine rice that’s oven-baked in a clay pot. You’re left with a seemingly endless number of configurations, but don’t stress–the $9.95 price tag on everything makes it easy to go back for repeats.
Inside the unassuming brick building, it’s tidy and intimate, with red walls and black accents. Make reservations on weekends since the main dining room only seats 15ish. The waitstaff is friendly and attentive (it’s hard not to be, I suppose, when the dining room is the size of a Caswell double?), and the atmosphere is super-casual and cozy. To top it off, it’s BYOB, so you can stop down the street at Madeira Liquors, which is as charming as a liquor store could possibly be, and snag some booze to imbibe with your noodles.
High: They take care of you here. Between an attentive staff and a menu that lets you pick exactly what you’re craving, be it customizable noodle bowls or pan-Asian favorites, it’s easy to go home happy.
Low: The menu can get a little garbled, what with its commitment to a bunch of different cuisines at once, which means sweet yellow corn kernels come in the noodle bowls and the coconut peanut sauce isn’t as good as it’d be if you were to go to a place like Sawaddee. If you’re looking for authentic food, you’re better off elsewhere.
Bottom line: This is a place you should file away in your backlog of go-tos. Most basically, it is a casual, affordable noodle house where you can have it your way. BYODrank, take a nice stroll to Ives with someone you like, and go to town on those noodles.