I walked into Happy Noodle House at 835 Walnut Street in Boulder, looking for a little happy-hour joy. And I found it.
Another one of Dave Query's Big Red F Restaurant Group places, the noodle house has a clean, modern feel, with communal tables, warm hand towels, trays of condiments and dim lighting. It was pretty empty when I got there (early) and was getting packed by the time I left, even though it had just opened a few days earlier, on February 13,
My server, the managers and the bussers were all, um, attentive before it got busy. I appreciate good service, but I don't need my water filled up sixteen times in four minutes, especially when the carafe is resting calmly next to me.
When Jason Sheehan talked to Query a few months ago, Query told him a little about Happy Noodle House chef James Van Dyk.
And when I recently spoke with Van Dyk, I asked him to elaborate on the origins of the restaurant. "The inspiration of Happy Noodle House came from traveling and living in Asia," he told me. "I was continually blown away with their delicious form of eating."
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And they carried that flavor over to Happy Noodle House. "it is unique because of the high- quality ingredients that we use, the fun atmosphere, and the love and passion in the kitchen, on the floor and behind the bar." Van Dyk continued. "I knew after my first encounter with this food that there would come a time for its popularity in the U.S. It has been around for centuries, and is now finally catching on in America. We wanted to introduce this style of eating to the masses."
I didn't order the house, but I did get some ramen and a steamed bun, both with pork. The bun, which was slightly gummy, had quality pork along with housemade pickles and hoisin, which created a very satisfying combination in my mouth. The ramen was delicious, with the same quality pork in a rich, concentrated broth. Some wood ear mushrooms, green onions, sesame and fishcake finished off the bowl. It may have been the best ramen I've ever had.
The highlight of the meal? The fortune cookies, which are housemade and fantastic, with a strong vanilla scent and such insightful fortunes as "Yes dumpling is porky. Porky go bow wow." and "Ah! Freedom." This made me happy -- which, judging from the restaurant's name, is the Big Red F's basic goal.
I laughed my way home.