We have replaced bagels with the Noodle Shop here in Iowa City. The place was always just a little off our mark whenever we came out for lunch, but recently we addressed several of those past hang ups and now go there every day. I rather enjoy the routine. Sometimes I vary up the selection, but mostly choose between Thai Spicy Noodles and Japanese Pan Fried Noodles.
I guess the craze came from watching Begin Japanology A YouTube show that we stumbled upon one night. We LOVE all things Japan, so we gave it a go and became addicted. Most shows address a bit of culture, but many shows are about Japanese cuisine and all the places, variations, and history that goes along with them. Noodles are one such topic: Udon, Soba, and Ramen are the most common.
The Noodle shop, when it first opened, was a crazy place! Long lines, no tables, crying children, Just think of a mad zoo! We had limited funds for lunches and the prices were just a little on the high side. Add in the time lost waiting in line and for a place to sit and it just made lunch impracticable to eat there.
However, as the popularity has faded a bit…basically the “newness” of a “cultured place to eat” has faded, We now can dine in peace and the turn over for noodles is fast. It is always faster if there are not 20 groups with children in front of you. I’m not sure how long this fad will last for us, but they like my Origami and have even bought us lunch TWICE for the little frogs and birds I leave. I have not received a free lunch for my little origami sculptures since before we left Michigan! So it definitely has a draw in that department. Also, we have been losing weight after we cut out that calorie bomb of a Bagel. The calories for each dish are displayed, and I usually choose the lower calorie ones…mostly because I like the Asian versions of noodles and not the Italian or American ones. I have even been cooking the Udon and Soba noodles at home. ( Trivia: Soba Noodles are made with Buckwheat and are best eaten by loudly slurping them to get the buckwheat flavor in your nostrils.)
As mentioned before, besides Noodles, we are addicted to Begin Japanology, It is hosted by Peter Barakan, a British transplant who has been in Japan 40+ years. It’s a fun show because it looks professional, but done on the cheap. It makes it fun because sometimes they leave in some of the outtakes and missteps of the host as they force him to ask women about their undergarments, climb trees, play piano, run up mount Fuji, and attempt to fish. One of the perks of the show is that he gets to eat all that food and travel to all those cool destinations around Japan.
So if you find yourself with insomnia late at night and surfing the internet mindlessly, punch up YouTube and look up Begin Japanology. The Topics range all over the place and I’m sure you will find something you enjoy.