8865 Stanford Blvd, #103
Columbia, MD 21045
Pros: Unexpected and authentic Chinese menu, speedy service, and of course, the noodles
Cons: Artificial crab meat
We have to admit that we weren’t expecting much the first time we walked into this restaurant. I was recommended this restaurant by a former co-worker, who admittedly does not have the most adventurous palate. Plus, based on the restaurant’s name, we expected something along the lines of of the Noodles & Co. franchise. Boy, were we mistaken. We had no idea that what awaited us was more of a pan-Asian menu with a bit of a Chinese emphasis. Plus, the menu offers more than just noodles.
When you walk in, you are met with a more modern and hip Asian decor. Presumably because we are an Asian couple, the restaurant managers also slipped us their “secret” Asian menu, a tactic common among Chinese restaurants, so as not to intimidate more Western customers who may have a weak stomach for items such as “Stewed Pork Intestine & Duck Blood.” This was the first thing that surprised us. All in all, the quality of the food impressed us so much that the very next day, when some friends were asking where we might all go to eat, we had the perfect suggestion!
I have my own recipe for Ja-Jain Mein (Beijing-style spaghetti), and I have to say that Noodles’ Corner recipe is just as good. (My fiancee claims that my recipe is better, but I think she may have been saying that due to impending marital obligations.) The following day, I had the Indonesian Noodles, a dish with noodles and a medley of seafood. My only complaint comes from this dish, as the crab meat supplied in this dish was obviously artificial, something considered heresy in the crab-loving state of Maryland. Other than this, the dish was superb, with the perfect blend of other seafood and vegetables in a sauce with the perfect amount of taste and kick.
Interestingly, despite the name, my fiancee has yet to order an actual noodle dish. With our visits, she usually elects to order off the (not so) secret menu. She has ordered (not so intimidating) dishes such as Fish Fillet with Spicy Black Pepper Sauce on Hot Plate, Black Mushrooms with Bok Choy, and their myriad of tofu dishes. She and I were virtually fighting over the fish dish, trying to see who would eat the last bite, as it was prepared so perfectly. The vegetables were also magnificent, so much so that you truly want to savor each bite.
Perhaps because the restaurant was very sparsely populated – likely due to us going their at such an odd hour, and because it suffers from the Columbia curse of being rather hidden from the casual-driving public – the service was top notch, bringing us food in a very speedy manner. Seriously, though, we wouldn’t mind seeing this restaurant a little fuller, even if it does mean we have to wait a little longer. The food is THAT good!
UPDATE 19-Jul-2012: We have since become regular customers at Noodles Corner, and the owners seem to have taken a liking to us, as they tend to recognize us when we come in. From what we’ve seen, business looks have increased, and the restaurant continues to do well. We have eaten through most, if not the entire menu at this point. If you like the more authentic Chinese cuisine, see if you can get a whole fish (yes, the head included) drenched in a magical tofu sauce. Seriously, we don’t know what’s in the sauce, but it’s addictive! Another one of our favorites is their fried tofu. My mother-in-law, who came from Fuzhou, China, and spent some time in the restaurant business herself, actually enjoys this restaurant…and that’s a REAL endorsement! In all honesty, it’s hard to go wrong with any of their menu choices.