The Happy Noodle House in Boulder is the latest addition to Dave Query's "Big Red F" empire (other existing restaurants are Jax, Zolo, Lola, Centro, and the West End, all in Boulder and/or Denver). The Noodle House opened very recently where D'Napoli's italian restaurant was forever, on Walnut St just west of 9th. Outside, the building looks the same except for the big "Happy Noodle House" sign, but inside the place was a different world, looking nothing like the cozy italian place it replaced. I didn't wander the whole restaurant as I was seated by the door and it was quite busy, but the seating all appeared to be at large community type benches and "picnic" sized tables. I liked the change in atmosphere, but it was hard to evaluate (again, seated by the door and there were a number of people standing and waiting for a table).
The happy hour pricing is very reasonable. Unfortunately, the food was pretty mediocre. I ordered the "Steamed Chinese Buns", "Har Gao", "Lacquered Lamb Ribs" and "Thai Curried Chicken Wings". The steamed bun was tasty, and the har gao were also decent. But the ribs did not have much interesting flavor, nothing about the first bite made want to take a second; it wasn't awful, but was entirely non-descript. And the chicken wings were really no good at all. There was a sauce at the bottom of the little bowl that the wings came in, but the wings themselves were not covered in this sauce and had no flavor other than a basic cooked chicken wing with no seasoning. My companions ordered the "Mini Zaru Soba" which was a very generous portion for the price. Unfortunately, they also reported a lack of flavor, and the "soy dipping sauce" that came with it appeared to them to be, basically, soy sauce.
I wanted to be blown away as I do like some of the other Query restaurants (Zolo is one of my favorite restaurants in town), and I will certainly give the noodle house another try or 2 -- it certainly fills a niche in downtown Boulder -- but they also clearly need to do a little more work on the food they're producing.
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