Don’t Call It Fusion! Mecha Noodle Bar
by Leslie Singer
Being a gastronomic purist, I prefer the art of dining to eating, and find it beneath my foodie-ness to grace a chain. However, Mecha Noodle has humbled me. Initially, I was going to describe the place as Asian Fusion, but they hate the word ‘fusion.’ And they don’t consider themselves a sushi restaurant, either. To use their words, they are an American-Vietnamese-Japanese-Thai-Chinese-Korean-New England-Momofuku-Totto-and-Ippudo-inspired. So there you go!
The menu is broken down into Snacks, Steamed Bao’s, Pho’s, Ramens, and Autumn (salads). I chose the Sweet & Sour Salad; napa, pickled melon, pineapple kimchi dressing with crispy shallots ($7) which had the right mix of tangy/sweet/crunchy. If you’re a Ramen fan, the Spicy Miso with chashu, mushrooms, chili oil ($12) was off the charts. I added the charred corn, tamago (soft boiled egg), kikurage (I didn’t know either – it’s a wood ear mushroom), chashu (roasted pork belly) and nori. The serving was enough for lunch the next day. In the Steamed Bao category, try the Shrimp Cake; seared with kewpie, chili sauce, pickles and cilantro ($10). I’ll try them all eventually. They are that good. The menu changes seasonally so don’t get too used to one dish, it might not be there when you go back. An added surprise from a chain.
The hip staff matches the hip interior, that matches the hip cocktail list that matches the hip seating options. Besides regular tables, the bar doubles as a counter. And Noise Alert; if you have an aversion to loud music, bring earplugs.
Then there are the little things, like the mini bottles of sauce at every table, allowing you to moderate flavors and heat levels. It’s like playing with your food adult style.
You’ll probably have a bit of a wait, but the turnover is quick. So the next time the urge hits you for some American-Vietnamese-Japanese-Thai-Chinese-Korean-New England-Momofuku-Totto-and-Ippudo kinda, sorta chow, you’ll know where to go!
mechanoodlebar.com 201 Crown Street, New Haven