Combining ‘Drunken Noodle’ and ‘Little Bangkok’ is a Bad Idea

I’m a little worried.

Dave Scheer, the co-owner of Little Bangkok and Drunken Noodle in East Grand Forks, says the two restaurants will soon be combined into one, in the Drunken Noodle location (the former Applebee’s location) right along the river in EGF.

Scheer told the Grand Forks Herald: “The Drunken Noodle space isn’t being used very well… The college crowd didn’t find us as attractive as we thought they would.”

According to the article, the restaurants will be combined in the early part of next year.

A sushi bar is set to be put into the stage area in the Drunken Noodle this Wednesday, so the restaurant will be closed for about a week. Call ahead to check if it’s open over the next week and a half.

To me, this is a terrible idea.

The plan Scheer and co-owner Thamrong “Keng” Dechawuth had is a good one: Bangkok is a bit more up-scale in a modern and chic setting, while Noodle is cheaper, with (obviously) more noodle dishes aimed at a younger crowd.

But would you want to go to a restaurant that is actually two different restaurants, ordering off of two different menus? It just seems to me to be diluting the identities of the two restaurants, mostly Little Bangkok, which has been pretty successful.

But Drunken Noodle, on the other hand, has struggled. Along with other restaurants competing around town like Shing Ya and Fuji in Grand Forks, Drunken Noodle and Little Bangkok are pretty much competing against each other, and just a few blocks away too. Maybe Scheer and Dechawuth read the market wrong and there just isn’t demand for another Asian restaurant.

Perhaps a better option would be to keep the successful Little Bangkok in place at its current location and call it quits with Drunken Noodle, rather than sacrificing Bangkok to try to save Noodle.

I sincerely hope this doesn’t doom both places.

We’ll see.

New Items Added to Already Great ‘Little Bangkok’ Menu

I’ve mentioned Little Bangkok in a few previous posts, but I really wanted to get a full post written about the place because it’s so good.

A friend and I had an early dinner there last weekend. It was about 5 p.m. and there were already a few patrons seated in the clean, modern dining room in East Grand Forks. There’s a fireplace, a few seats to wait if your table isn’t ready and tasteful decorations around like short branches hanging from the ceiling with tiny white lights on them.

Little Bangkok

Little Bangkok is owned by the same people who just opened the Drunken Noodle, also in EGF. If I’m not mistaken, I think I spotted one of the owners at LB on Saturday. That’s promising to see, because the restaurant has been open for a while and a less attentive owner wouldn’t keep up scrutiny like these guys.

And the oversight is keeping quality up at Little Bangkok when it comes to the food, but also the service.

On Saturday, I was greeted warmly at the door and found my friend, who already had a table. Our waiter came right over and asked for drink orders. He seemed a little nervous, like he’d just started, but was flawless. He was knowledgeable about the dishes and extremely attentive when it came to checking on us and refilling drinks.

Ginger vinaigrette salad

As we checked out the menu, we noticed a few new dishes. I wish I would’ve looked a little more closely, as their online menu does not reflect the changes. But we immediately saw the new Curry Puffs on the appetizer section. We also got some Gyoza, which are about two-bite-sized dumplings served with a soy-based sauce.

The Curry Puffs, with a flaky, buttery crust and stuffing of chicken and vegetables, were amazing. They were cooked perfectly. Any less would’ve been doughy, but any more they would’ve been too crispy. I missed the actual ingredients because my dinner mate and I were in ecstasy at these perfect pouches. Next time I’m there, I’ll jot them down.

Curry Puffs

The Gyoza were tasty, but unremarkable. The sauce served with them was quite salty. We should have gotten two orders of Curry Puffs instead.

Miso soup

Our pre-main course appetizers were the normal salad and miso soup. But the salad was anything but normal. It’s weird that one of my favorite things to eat in town is a salad, but the dressing they put on is amazing. It’s a ginger vinaigrette but is so good I’d put it on nearly anything. My dinner mate said the miso soup was delicious.

Another appetizer to try that I highly recommend would be the tempura-fried vegetables. It comes with a slightly sweet yet savory sauce that is one of the best I’ve ever had. It, like the ginger vinaigrette, would make anything taste good. Vegetables like broccoli, green pepper, onion, sweet potato and others are very lightly battered in tempura and fried. The batter doesn’t get in the way, but just amplifies the vegetables with a welcome crunch. Dunk the veggies in the sauce and you have a wonderful start to a dinner.

Drunken noodle

Oddly enough, the main course I ordered was the Drunken Noodle’s namesake dish. Wide noodles are covered in an oyster sauce accompanied by vegetables and your choice of meat. I thought the dish was great, but the sauce had an overwhelming fennel or star anise taste and the many leaves of basil really overpowered everything else. I ended up sliding them to the outside of the plate. But I would order it again and maybe ask for easy on the basil.

Gyoza

My friend had the California roll and, as he dug into the perfectly wrapped sushi roll, broke out in a chorus of yummms and ohhhs. He said it was great to finally have good sushi again.

California roll

We didn’t have desert, but if you’re a sweet tooth, check out the coconut ice cream. Also try the Panang curry, which has potatoes, onion and peanuts in a sweet coconut curry sauce. The pad thai isn’t bad either.

Little Bangkok is one of my favorite places in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks. Do you have a dish you can’t get enough of?

Righteous Ramen at the ‘Drunken Noodle’

The Drunken Noodle in East Grand Forks has been open for about a week and a half and I’ve heard wildly differentiating reviews on the place. A few commenters noted that they had sub-par dishes that lacked flavor while others said they loved it.

I tried the pho on the first night Drunken Noodle was open. If you remember my first review, I came in at 11 and found the place dead, with a few employees sitting at a table having some late dinner. I ordered some take-out and was pretty pleased with the taste of the pho.

But tonight I made my way back to East Grand Forks with an old friend back in town for a few days. He arrived before me, but it looked like he didn’t have trouble getting a table as there were a few open at around 6 p.m. As time went on though, the place filled up nicely.

BBQ Pork Ramen

We both ordered the BBQ Pork Ramen. I asked for it a bit spicy and was asked for a rating from 1 to 10. I got the 6.

About 10-15 minutes later our dishes arrived. Our server unfortunately forgot which one was the spicier of the two, but we quickly found out by tasting the broth. I was happy with the heat of my soup and as I kept eating, I grew more accustomed to it.

The dish comes with a deep brown broth, snow peas, carrots, mushrooms, green onion and a hard-boiled egg, according to the menu. But I couldn’t find any snow peas or mushrooms and there was a healthy portion of leeks floating around. Not a big deal, but the dish should come as advertised.

The vegetables were cooked well, with a healthy crunch to the carrots and green onion. The leeks were tasty and added a bit of welcome bitterness to the soup. The broth was nice and spicy, with a noticeable pork flavor to it.

The “BBQ Pork” was fine, but it could’ve been just a bit more tender. And there wasn’t a whole lot of barbecue taste to it. My hypothesis is that, in an effort to save on cooking time, the meat in all of the dishes is added after the fact. Ideally, the cook should boil the broth and add the meat in to cook with it, resulting in a fresh, tender bite. It is understandable though, because the cooks probably want to ensure the meat is cooked correctly and avoid poisoning anyone.

The noodles were cooked perfectly. And this is not your dorm room ramen that’s dried, wrapped in plastic and sold for all of 20 cents. All of the ingredients in Drunken Noodle’s version combined for a pretty tasty dish.

I would definitely order the ramen again. Next time, I’d like to try the Duck Noodle as I’ve heard good things.

Please share your experiences regarding Drunken Noodle, the good and the bad, in the comments. Is there something I absolutely need to try?

Find us on Facebook - Follow us on Twitter

‘Drunken Noodle’ Opens in EGF Boardwalk

The wait is over.

Drunken Noodle over on the East Grand Forks boardwalk opened Wednesday. After “cxtina” commented on my previous post that it was indeed open, I had to run over there and get some food to go.

Drunken Noodle

Here’s what she (I’m assuming) said:

Drunken Noodle opened today and IT WAS GOOD. as an Asian who grew up in an area with a diverse population of ethnicities within the Asian culture, Drunken Noodle (asian food-wise) is SPOT-ON. The pho was excellent (a little on the sweet side) but used fresh bean sprouts, the correct rice noodles, basil, onion, broth, etc.

The place opened with little, if any, fanfare. But it takes the place of den-of-all-evil Applebee’s next to Whitey’s, Mike’s Pizza, Boardwalk Bar and Grill and the Blue Moose.

When I went to the Drunken Noodle on Wednesday night, it was nearing 11 p.m. and it was completely dead save for some employees and one of the co-owners having drinks and dinner near the bar. But I chatted a bit with the co-owner and some of the employees and they said there were some people waiting when they opened at 5 p.m., and it was hit and miss as for a steady traffic flow through the place.

That can only be because people have yet to be informed that it is open. I expect it to be packed.

The co-owner told me though that they’ll be open until about midnight so I was a bit dismayed at that. I thought it would be like the Fargo location that’s open until 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday but I think there’s a stipulation that, if a restaurant serves alcohol, they can only be open until a certain time.

Pho and Chopsticks

I took up a spot at the bar and ordered the Pho to go along with a Blue Moon to enjoy while the dish was being put together. By the way, it’s pronounced “fuhh” not “fho,” but I’m sure they’ll understand what you’re trying to say.

The service was quick and friendly. I had my beer in seconds and my container of pho arrived in under 10 minutes.

I sped home and unwrapped the container and my kitchen was instantly filled with the aroma of the noodle soup. The portion was huge, probably enough for 2. And it was piping even after the 10 minute drive.

The soup was sort of stacked in the container with noodles first, bean sprouts, green onions, big chunks of white onions, a few meatballs and some slices of beef. The whole combination tasted great. It would be the perfect antidote to a cold winter day.

I did find the beef to be just a slight tough. But the sprouts and onions stayed crisp and the rice noodles were cooked well. In any pho, it’s all about the broth and this one delivered. It was a deep brown color and had a bit of spice. The heat of the spice was spot-on, with just enough to tingle your lips.

Now I’m no pho connoisseur, but I found there to be just a bit too much of the cinnamon/cloves/ginger flavor in the broth. I’m not sure what of those ingredients were used, but they’re included in a classic pho recipe. I’m nit-picking here. I would definitely order it again.

The place has been remodeled with a stage for karaoke or acoustic performances, an area for what looked to be a dance floor, and pretty good sized bar and seating past the bar and around the dance floor near the bar. The restaurant is spacious and there’s tasteful dim lighting throughout.

As with the Applebee’s in the same location, there’s a wonky entrance if you’re coming from the River Cinema 15 side. You have to go through a long hallway and your only hints to what exactly is in the building are a few signs lit badly. If you check the place out, park near the river and the entrance is easier to find.

Remodeled Bar

So now there’s yet another option for some different dining in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks. I’ll be coming back to the “Noodle,” and hope you’ll check it out and let me know what you think.

Find us on Facebook - Follow us on Twitter

EGF ‘Drunken Noodle’ Opening a Bit Later Than Expected

The new Drunken Noodle restaurant in the East Grand Forks boardwalk will open a bit later than was expected due to a restaurant license delay.

Pad Thai

Co-owner Keng Deshawuth said everything is ready to go at the site of the former Applebee’s and they already have their liquor license. But because of the restaurant license delay, the opening has been pushed back by about a week.

Deshawuth said he hopes to get the place open early next week, possibly by February 6.

Owners had earlier wanted to open on January 30 or before.

Deshawuth opened Thai Orchid in Moorhead, then opened a Fargo Drunken Noodle location as well as Wasabi. He and co-owner Dave Scheer then made their first foray in the northern valley at Little Bangkok in East Grand Forks, serving fresh sushi and Thai dishes. The place has been popular ever since opening.

Drunken Noodle

Drunken Noodle get its name from the noodle dish including wide rice noodles, broccoli, bell peppers, Thai basil and chicken, pork, shrimp, beef or tofu. Most dishes are under $8.

“This is going to be a little bit more of a destination restaurant. We’re looking to work with the movie theater to serve a good, but quick dinner,” Scheer said earlier.

The East Grand Forks location will be open until 3 a.m. so it’ll likely be a hopping place just across the Red River. There’s a stage for Karaoke and music performances and  seating for more than 120 people.

I know I’ll be a regular.

Find us on Facebook - Follow us on Twitter

‘Drunken Noodle’ Menu Sneak Peek; Likely to be Late-night Hotspot

I was able to get my hands on the new menu at the Drunken Noodle in East Grand Forks and it looks very promising. WDAZ reporter Melanie Orlins got a first-hand look at the place today and says the owners are planning to open between January 23 and 30.

Melanie tells me they’re going to be open until 3 a.m.! I can definitely see this being incredibly popular with those strolling down the boardwalk or in downtown Grand Forks. Grab some drinks at one of the many bars and sidle in to the Noodle to combat the alcohol that is likely sloshing around in your stomach. A little spice is good for that too.

Menu Front

The restaurant is pretty large, seating about 120 diners. There will be a full bar and a stage for karaoke (great).

Menu Inside

Because of the type of food they’re offering, dishes will fly out of the kitchen. In southeast Asia, these noodle dishes are sometimes even eaten at breakfast. You can get them from little street vendors. The most common dish is called Pho. A tasty broth covers beef, noodles, bean sprouts and basil. Tasty.

They offer a selection of small plates with small prices. What sounds really good is the Little Mermaid. It’s “shrimp marinated in herbs, wrapped in rice paper and fried.” It sounds like a crispy delight.

BBQ Pork Ramen

Another item I can’t wait to try is the BBQ Pork Ramen. The pork sits atop snow peas, carrots, mushrooms, green onion and a hard-boiled egg. Anytime you put an egg with anything it’s good.

Pho

If you just can’t get enough meat, there’s the Three Musketeers. A huge bowl is filled with shrimp, grilled pork, minced chicken, fish cakes, bok choy, wonton chips and egg noodles in an extra spicy broth.

So needless to say, I’m ready for this tasty Fargo import. I’ll be there on the day or shorter after it opens. When I get a more concrete date I’ll have that for ya.

‘Drunken Noodle’ Opening Soon; WDAZ to Tour Friday

Yet another thing from Fargo we’re finally getting: the Drunken Noodle.

It’s from the owners of Little Bangkok in East Grand Forks, Thai Orchid in Moorhead, and LeeLa, Wasabi, and two Drunken Noodle locations in Fargo.

I haven’t written anything about Little Bangkok in EGF, but I am a huge fan. Not for the sushi, as I can’t stomach it, but for their curry soups and Pad Thai. Anytime there’s Pad Thai on the menu, I order it, and it’s always been good. It’s a noodle dish with your choice of meat and some peanuts among other things. Now if they could just change the name of the place.

Pad Thai

But I am extremely excited to hear that Drunken Noodle will fill the vacant Applebee’s on the East Grand Forks boardwalk and will be opening in the next few weeks. I expect to get an actual date of opening on Friday. WDAZ reporter Melanie Orlins will be taking a tour of the place and will have the first look inside on the news Friday night.

Anytime we can get rid of a chain and get a local (or regional) restaurant in its place, it’s a good thing.

They’re throwing out the old round Applebee’s bar and are revamping the entire space.

The owner says the menu will be similar to the Fargo location’s, but more extensive.

Drunken Noodle

What looks tasty to me off of their Fargo menu are the Gyoza (vegetable dumplings), spring rolls and the restaurant’s namesake, the drunken noodle. It’s “wide, flat rice noodles stir-fried with basil, broccoli, tomatoes, onions, garlic, bell pepper, jalapenos and hot Thai chili.” Perfect to warm up with as this winter has finally turned bitterly cold.

What’s out of place on the menu is a number of American or Italian dishes. I guess for those not feeling the Thai dishes or for kids who aren’t adventurous eaters. You can get mac and cheese, primavera, fettucini alfredo or spicy cajun pasta.

Check back tomorrow when I’ll post more about Drunken Noodle’s opening and hopefully have a date for you.

Find us on Facebook - Follow us on Twitter