I discovered the power of marketing today – in the form of a restaurant’s name and how it is displayed on its front facade. But before getting that far, my wife and I went bowling.
It had probably been a couple months since our last outing to Sproul Lanes in Springfield, PA. I previously addressed my renewed interest in a pastime that was somewhat of a passion of mine for a few years when I was in high school. My wife has also taken a shine to it. We usually like to make it an outing by following up a couple games with a meal at a restaurant in the general vicinity of the bowling alley. Today’s pick was Noodle Eighty Eight, which is also in Springfield, just slightly out of the way from our route home.
The restaurant is in a shopping center that we drive by with some regularity, so I’ve known of its existence since it opened some time last year. But as I alluded to in the opening paragraph, there was just something about its name and the way it was displayed that led me to believe it was along the lines of a Pan-Asian fast-food restaurant or cafeteria, like Pei Wei Asian Kitchen. I even considered the possibility that they served Italian food. These were probably silly assumptions on my part, but because of them, I never bothered to look into the restaurant’s menu or if it actually is the type of place I thought it was – at least until a few nights ago.
I was browsing online to see where we might eat after bowling and saw Noodle Eighty Eight come up as one of the options in Springfield. This time around, I clicked on it instead of continuing to scroll. I was pleasantly surprised to see that my assumptions were way off base. They are actually a fairly nice place with table service.
While the menu has a few options from other Asian cuisines, it’s mainly Chinese. But it’s not the style of Chinese food that I usually write about. Based on its name, they unsurprisingly offer a fairly wide selection of noodle dishes, as well as an assortment of dumplings.
We bypassed the noodles and ordered a scallion pancake and pork soup dumplings for appetizers.
The scallion pancake was probably one of the better ones I’ve had. It had a flaky outer surface, and was slightly soft inside, which resulted in a nice chew.
My wife loves soup dumplings and used to get them a lot when we lived and frequently ate out in Philadelphia’s Chinatown. I am happy to have them on occasion, but prefer regular, pan-fried or steamed pork dumplings. So her opinion is of far greater importance than mine when it comes to this dish. While she enjoyed them, she said they were a little less flavorful and had less soup inside than the better ones in Chinatown..
There were a few out-of-the-ordinary entrée options, including pork shoulder, lamb shank, and tilapia, but most of the offerings were fairly common Chinese-American fare or a slight variation on it.
My wife went with a dish that she could safely assume I wouldn’t ask to sample – Mushroom’s Family; an assortment of mushrooms in a white garlic sauce. I opted for Spicy Mandarin Shrimp, which, in this case, I could safely assume wouldn’t be too spicy, as it was described as “mild.”
Mushroom’s Family had an array of mushrooms I’ve never seen before. I’d have guessed a few of the items in the vegetarian dish were pieces of chicken or scallops.
My Mandarin Shrimp had just a touch of both sweetness and heat. The shrimp were lightly breaded and mixed in with cut up peppers and onions.
We both enjoyed our entrées and have leftovers that we’ll gladly polish off tomorrow.
To close the meal out, for a pleasant change of pace, the fortune cookies that accompanied our check were chocolate.
And now that we know what Noodle Eighty Eight is all about, we’ll be adding it to our rotation of local restaurants that we visit at least occasionally.
I anticipate making a couple outings to either sample new cheesesteaks or revisit ones I’ve already tried each of the next two weeks, hopefully with a couple of those outings being ‘double-headers.’ Then I will put out my final commentary and best-of lists to close out the project the following week.
At least that’s the plan. If new places that I feel the need to include should pop up on my radar, I would probably have to push that schedule back a week.