After moving out of its former digs on Green Street, Chubby Noodle has resumed business on a quiet strip of Grant Avenue north of Columbus. It’s a small, brightly colored lunch-and-dinner spot with only a few tables and soundsystem that just might play some deafening music that’s less-than-respectful of women and their anatomy.
[jump] While the name sounds like a ramen shop, noodles comprise less than half the menu, which is otherwise a pan-Asian agglomeration that covers both chicken chow mein and a green papaya salad. As with most things that come in cones, the unagi roll ($7) is more of a visual delight than anything. Like Korean street tacos, it’s a lot of buck for the bang, and certainly not going to make anybody chubby, serving better as an hors d’oeuvre than a lunch component. The primary reason — and considering the wealth of inexpensive Asian food within a very short distance, arguably the only reason — to hit Chubby Noodle is the fried chicken.
It’s $12 for four juicy, buttermilk-battered strips, plus a small cup of sambal for dipping. (Sambals are chile-based Indonesian sauces that epitomize the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach, incorporating rice vinegar, garlic, fish sauce, lemongrass, or virtually anything. Chubby Noodle’s is creamy and cooling, its components otherwise difficult to differentiate.) And it’s the kind you can eat every day, even though the salt-and-pepper wings at House of Xian Dumpling are barely three blocks to the south.
But if you want something to drink with that chicken, choose wisely. I was a little dismayed to see a $14 Asahi tall boy listed; in my mind, it pairs well with fried food, although not at a 300 percent markup. Apart from the $6 glass of “Great Idea, trust us,” some of the sakes run well into the triple digits, but at least that’s for a 1.8-liter bottle that screams, “Party time!” At volumes like this — both sonically and in terms of patrons served — it’s probably best to stick with a carafe and let it all roll over you.
Chubby Noodle, 1310 Grant Avenue, 415-296-9600.