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This article by Kathleen McGinn Spring was prepared for the August 6, 2003 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Out to Lunch: Ya Ya Noodles
Some years ago, the spouse and I became addicted to
Tiger Noodles, then Y.Y. Doodles. We stopped so often for dinner —
and sometimes for lunch on weekends — that a waiter finally asked
"Don’t you have a kitchen?" It was humiliating. We didn’t
go back for days.
Now Tiger Noodles has a sibling, Ya Ya Noodles, which is located in
the Montgomery Center shopping center, site of the marvelous Montgomery
Cinema. Owned by the same folks who have made Tiger Noodles such a
popular spot, Ya Ya Noodles is considerably larger, and is not dependent
on the weather for seating, as is Tiger Noodles, where the vast majority
of tables are set on a patio facing Nassau Street.
Pulling up late in the lunch hour during the new eatery’s grand opening,
I easily found a parking spot. There would be no swaggering stories
of winning the Nassau Street parking game, perhaps by cannily moving
into position just as a package-laden shopper exited from the Carousel
or from Nassau Street Seafood. But that’s okay, the parking drama
is wearing at lunchtime, when a nice quiet break with a stack of newspapers
provides the fuel for a productive afternoon/evening at work.
Newspapers in hand, I was greeted by a pleasant hostess at Ya Ya Noodles
and seated within seconds, but not before taking note of a semi-private
dining room to the left of the entrance, and a colorful lunch (or
dinner) bar just past the hostess stand. The main dining room is large;
I’m tempted to say enormous. Most tables, covered in crisp, off-white
linen tablecloths, are for four. But there are larger round tables
that seat up to 10. Walls are white, the floor is carpeted, and a
series of large windows line one wall. The overall effect is restful.
My waiter brought a menu and a glass of ice water within seconds.
I was surprised to see far more items on the menu than are on that
at Tiger Noodles. Along with the large selection of soups for which
Tiger Noodles is known, there are no fewer than 16 seafood choices,
including Chilean sea bass with ginger and scallions, Thai curry shrimp
with zucchini, crispy squid with peppercorn, and jumbo shrimp Sichuan
There are the standard chicken, beef, and pork dishes, and a section
of "special diet dishes," including salmon or chicken with
vegetables. The long noodle section of the menu includes pan-fried
angel hair with seafood and vegetables, along with 10 other types
of noodles, all of which can be served with any combination of meat,
fish, and vegetables. For those who hate to stray far from a pizzeria,
there is even a special Western fried rice with ham, pepperoni, and
On the lunch menu, served from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., prices range
from $5.25 to $6.25 and include white rice and a choice of soup, a
vegetable roll, or a soft drink. Lunches include beef and tomato,
shrimp in garlic sauce, ginger chicken with string beans, and steamed
vegetables with bean curd.
I went with chow fun ("a wide noodle" as George Costanza once
explained to Kramer on an episode of Seinfeld). It can be prepared
with meat, fish, or vegetables. I chose vegetables. One taste and
I decided it was high time we make a full-fledged return to the Tiger
Noodle/Ya Ya Noodle fold.
Leaving the restaurant, I asked the hostess about the array of brightly-colored
jars on the lunch counter. She explained that each holds a different
kind of tapioca — strawberry, mango, passion fruit — used
in concocting a tea and milk beverage. Near the jars are big glasses
full of fat, colorful straws used to imbibe the tapioca-ball filled
drinks. Tapioca tea has been big — very big — in Chinatown
for a year-and-a-half or more, and apparently Ya Ya Noodles is giving
it a try in Montgomery. It would be fun to take one — perhaps
in neon orange or deep pink — back to the office after lunch.
Ya Ya Noodles is open every day from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. It accepts
MasterCard and Visa. And while this new restaurant is on the cutting
edge of a the tapioca tea craze, it does not serve liquor.
Center, Skillman. 609-921-8551.
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