Last Thursday, Jane and I visited the Noodles & Company at the Mall of America for a bite to eat. Noodles & Company is a quick and casual dining experience with over 20 locations in the Twin Cities, and many more across the country. They serve soups, salads, some sandwiches and many noodle dishes inspired by Asian, Mediterranean, and traditional American recipes. My personal favorite dish from Noodles & Company is the Indonesian peanut sauté — a dish consisting of rice noodles in a peanut sauce with stir-fried broccoli, carrots, bean sprouts, cilantro, and lime. This time I elected for the $7.75 “make it a trio” option, adding meatballs and a coconut-hinted Thai curry soup. Jane also decided to “make it a trio” with her Chinese chop salad and go with the grilled chicken breast and the tomato basil bisque soup. The Chinese chop salad Jane decided on is billed as having sesame-soy tossed mixed greens, bean sprouts, cabbage, red pepper, cucumbers, carrots, and fried wontons.
The two soups that came with our “trios” were very good. The tomato bisque soup was delicious and creamy, and resembled the same soup from Panera minus the croutons. The Thai curry was nice and spicy with a soothing coconut finish and tender vegetables in a warm broth.
Overall, we were quite satisfied with the dishes we ordered, and the flavor was delicious. We both agree that the meatballs served at Noodles & Company taste much better than their counterpart at Bona.
Price: A “small bowl” (salad pictured above) of a soup, salad, or noodle dish can be purchased for $4.50, and a large bowl (not pictured) can be purchased for $5.50. These bowls do not include meat or tofu ($2.25 extra). However, the large bowl may be filling enough so that meat/tofu may not even be necessary.
Specials: Specials at Noodles & Company seem to be fairly limited, which is typically the case for places like it. Among the specials we saw were the “make it a trio” special which allows you to choose a small-sized bowl (large bowl in picture) of either soup, salad, or noodles, a meat or tofu topping, and a side (small bowl in picture) of either soup or salad for $7.75. There was also a special on various types of macaroni and cheese which were not on the normal menu.
Service: Noodles & Company is a place where you order at the front when you enter, and can either sit down and have your food brought to you or order your food as take-out. At the Stadium Village location (which has two floors of seating), the service has been fine in my experience. At the Mall of America location (which is extremely busy during dinner) the service is mainly self-service.
Parking and Transportation: With over 20 locations around the Twin Cities, a Noodles & Company is not hard to find. Of the two I have been to and the several I have been past, there seems to be decent parking. Most locations seem to be a part of malls or strip malls with large parking lots nearby. The main exception I have seen thus far is the Stadium Village location on Washington Ave. near the U of M East Bank where parking is limited.
Verdict: What’s the verdict on Noodles & Company? The food is good, it’s quick, and the prices are reasonable. Noodles & Company is the sort of place for a nice quick lunch or dinner when you’re in the mood for noodles, soups, and salads. We give Noodles & Company three thumbs up, mainly due to the price/portion ratio in comparison to other similarly priced places such as Bona.