Brew News



Chad W. Lutz
 I think it says a lot about the state of our stomachs when you walk into a restaurant these days and ask for a menu catered specifically to your dietary or medical needs. Whatever it says, it's delicious, and I'm not going to sit here and argue delicious. What I will do is ask for my Vegan menus, order whatever I want without guilt or anxiety, and chow down like the rest of the world.

Last night I had the wonderful opportunity to check out Noodlecat, one of the many restaurants littered along Public Square. The restaurant actually sits closer to the East 4th district, but I'm not going to split hairs here. There were good eats to be had, and good eats were had in plenty.
The cuisine features heavy Japanese influences mixed with modern American favorites, giving rising to Asian-American mashups that are both visually pleasing and tasty. It's a place Walter Szobcek might be proud of; here there are no amateurs. The lunch and dinner menus offer classic options like the namesake noodle bowls spiced with curry kombu broth, kim chi, fennel, and Thai Szechuan chilies in addition to the signature steam bums, which reviews assure me are much more appetizing than they sound.

Appetizer plates like the tempura veggie platter and gyoza, which I tried, start things off. The gyoza have the texture of lighter, crispier pierogies seasoned with sesame and filled with purred veggies (primarily chickpeas. They were like biting into little, fried hummus pockets. I probably could have gone without the fried aspect of the dish, but the portion was decent and the garnishing included lettuce, pickled onions, and fresh ginger. Can't go wrong there. It also came with a savory soy/peanut sauce for dipping.

For those in search of lighter fare, Noodlecat offers staple salad options. The one that caught my eye was the SUPER Salad featuring avocado, blueberry, green tea granola, and adzuki beans served on a bed of kale. Damn. As Walter might point out, these people are not the ones that built the railroads. They can freaking cook, or at least throw a mean salad together.

I also tried one of the Noodlecat noodle bowls because, well, when in Downtown Cleveland… I ordered the Vegan Dan Dan Udon, which replaces the chicken-stock base of the original Dan Dan Ramen dish with vegetable broth. In my experience, little is changed in the overall flavor of dishes where vegetable broth tags out chicken or beef stock. In using stock of any kind, what you're aiming for is substance and salt, and veggie broth can achieve the exact same thing.

The flavors practically leapt out of my bowl and into my face. There were times it actually felt that way as the heat of the Thai chilies kicked in, but it was never overwhelming and didn't take away from the slurpy, meaty taste of the thick soba noodles used as the dish's centerpiece. Roasted peanuts, fresh basil, and spicy garlic oil balanced out the flavor palette creating a super savory meal I'd recommend to anyone, Vegan or otherwise. 

The restaurant also offers add-on options for tempura veggie cakes and tofu, which I threw into my meal just to make it even less appetizing to meat eaters. Asian cuisine sort of neatly settles into specific dietary needs. The primarily rice, soy, and tofu-based meals incorporate a lot of elements Vegans, Vegetarians, and Gluten-Free patrons seek out naturally. Dining out at Noodlecat doesn't feel like an obligation or chore. There are several types of dishes readily available on existing menus that don't require severe alterations to cater to diet demands. Parties in need of special accommodations can dine freely without fear of being singled out, which is a good thing to feel no matter what you're undertaking, and especially when you're fooding.
Noodle Cat
234 Euclid Ave. Cleveland, Ohio 44114
(216) 589-0007
Monday – Sunday 11:00am to 11:00pm
Prices: $4.00 to $11.00