First impressions are everything.
After yearning to try 904 Asian Noodle House for months, and avoiding it in the dead of summer when we heard the air conditioning was out for an extended period, two hungry ramen-loving girlfriends and I made the 30-plus-minute trek across town on a recent, chilly Monday evening.
Our GPS took us to the area, but a lack of signage makes 904 Asian Noodle House difficult to spot from the road.
We arrived, took a seat and looked over the short menu — 904 serves four distinct ramen choices, plus three additional meatless vegan varieties. It was only when our server arrived to take our order that we learned they were out of ramen noodles. We were offered udon, a thicker noodle; rice noodles, which are thinner; mung bean noodles, thinner and translucent; or won ton noodles.
Disappointed, we did two with udon and one with mung bean in three of the four signature ramen broth offerings: shio, a traditional, lightly colored salt-based broth; shoyu, a darker soy sauce-based broth; and kimchi, a fiery red garlic, ginger, Korean pepper and fermented cabbage-based broth. The fourth was ma po ramen. I was disappointed that tonkotsu, a creamier broth, was not offered.
Eager to try other items, and not let the ramen outage get the best of us, we ordered sio pao ($6.99 for two) — a pair of fluffy, steamed buns filled with ground pork — and the ika geso ($7.49), a combination of chewy fried squid and wrinkly shishito peppers with a soy dipping sauce. Thumbs up to both appetizers. (Gyoza and edamame round out the starter list.)
Our ramen arrived and the soft boiled eggs were cooked properly with their brightly hued, runny yolks. I missed the toasted seaweed, called nori, which was absent from all three bowls. If you want additional toppings, they’re available for an upcharge — everything from enoki mushrooms (49 cents) to kimchi ($1) and soft boiled eggs (99 cents). The broth on each bowl was flavorful and not too salty, but not the best I’d had. Of the three, the kimchi earned first place.
We bypassed dessert, but an assortment of ice cream and fried ice creams are available — think traditional Asian flavors including red bean, ube and green tea. There’s also a Japanese shaved ice called kakigori. I doubt I’ll make the cross-town trek back to try any of these.
Caron Streibich is an avid food-lover who reviews restaurants every other week in the Life section. Follow her dining adventures at facebook.com/caroneats and #caroneats on Instagram.