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Eating My Way Through University City: Chinese Noodle Café

University City Patch's resident foodie Natalie McLaury shares the scoop on her latest dining experience, Chinese Noodle Cafe.

Although the Chinese Noodle Café, located at 6138 Delmar Blvd., is easy to miss, with just a tiny storefront one block east of Skinker Blvd., its award status with the Riverfront Times proves it’s anything but forgotten: Best Chinese Restaurant 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011! After seeing it win a few years in a row, my husband and I finally headed there for a quick dinner one weeknight.

It’s apparent that owner Peggy Hou and her employees are deeply committed to ensuring their customers have a positive experience. They were very attentive - making multiple menu suggestions, re-filling water glasses, and helping me pack up my to-go bag, all without prompting.

I can’t complain, however, because it was per Peggy’s insistence that I started with the hot and sour soup instead of the other appetizers I had my eye on, like the egg drop soup or the spicy sour cabbage. The hot and sour soup’s popularity at the café is easy to understand. I’d be hard-pressed to list the ingredients, but I recognized tofu, rice noodles, cilantro, and an unmistakably hot and sour flavor!

After gulping down my soup, a bargain at $3.50, I hardly had room for my entree. Coming off of a month of subsisting on red meat and Christmas cookies, I was happy to find a variety of healthy meals on the menu, which is 100 percent MSG free.

I selected the steamed vegetables and shrimp that ended up being heavy on the vegetables, a fact I was thankful for, especially given their variety (mushrooms, water chestnuts, carrots, broccoli, and more!). Along with the fairly large portion came white rice and a sticky brown sauce, which I happily dunked my abundance of vegetables in.

My husband’s meal off the soup specials, was a seafood noodle soup. Also a large portion, it came full of scallops, shrimp, and crab (imitation, unfortunately). We agreed that it didn’t top the pho from , but was fresh and certainly satisfactory.

We left the restaurant feeling full, but not weighed down and heavy like we normally are after indulging in Chinese food. Granted, we strayed away from some of the traditionally heavier meals, such as the Crab Rangoon and the deep-fried cashew chicken. Even so, it’s nice to know there are healthy options available when you’re eating out. Vegetarians can cheer—the restaurant clearly labels which menu items are meat free and there are more than a handful of options.

The restaurant is small—only about ten tables and a few stools at a bar that wraps around the kitchen area. Fewer customers to serve means food comes out quickly, a bonus when you’re running from place to place like we were that evening. Whether you pop in before a concert at or stop in with your family on a busy weeknight, this place is sure to fulfill your Chinese cravings.

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