Another holiday weekend was upon me and I was lucky enough to find myself blessed by the arrival of my wonderful fiance, J. Sneaking into town a few hours early, we spent the first day of our time together visiting family and friends. But we needed some time together to talk and catch up because, despite an unlimited long distance package on our respective phones, there is much more that can be said while looking at each other.
What a better time to do some communication than over lunch. J. wanted something Asian. I suggest The Bamboo Club, and the high pitched screech that immenated from J.’s lungs could only be described as “ear shattering.” I am glad I didn’t suggest the Blu Burger Grill.
I reviewed my list of places to try and picked Noodles Ranch, a small, strip-mall based restaurant serving Vietnamese food. J. was up for the idea and we headed out to the streets of South Scottsdale looking for the place.
After several tries, we narrowed it down to the strip mall on the southeast corner of Scottsdale Road and Thomas and, sure enough, there it was with its big letters beckoning us to enjoy Vienamese cuisine. We parked and entered the place. It is fairly large inside and sparkling clean. We were told to take a seat anywhere and a server would be with us momentarily. We chose a table to the right and in a flash, we were given menus. As we looked them over, our server took our drink order. I had the Diet Coke ($1.50) and J. had the Ginger Limeade ($2.50). Our server took off and returned with our drinks in a matter of minutes.
J.’s Ginger Limeade was a pint glass filled with a pale, opaque liquid with about half ice and a small piece of ginger floating on top. J. took a sip and declared the drink very good. I also tried the Limeade and I thought it was very subtle. I was expecting to have my mouth overwhelmed with the taste of ginger, but it was just a nice mix. It could have been a big more tart for my tastes, but I could see where this drink would appeal to many.
Our server then took our orders. J. wanted Pho and decided to go into foodie mode, so the Combination Pho ($7.00) was selected, which included sirloin, brisket, tendon, tripe and meatballs. I wasn’t in the mood for soup, so I selected the Lemongrass Chicken with Vermicelli ($7.50). To start our meal, we selected the Spring Rolls ($5.00) and the Crispy Happy Pancake ($7.00).
As we sat and talked, we also took in the atmosphere. The thing I liked about the inside of Noodles Ranch was that it was colorful, but subdued and was an extremely comfortable setting. J. agreed and commented on how the mix of umbrellas hanging from the ceiling and the artwork on the walls was an agreeable touch.
Our server returned with our Spring Rolls. The plate contained a generous serving of the rolls, all cut in half and served with a peanut sauce. I grabbed one of the halves, dunked it in the sauce and took a large bite. The lettuce, bean sprouts and mint that were inside were crisp and fresh, while the shrimp and pork were subtle and added a nice savory side to the rolls. Noodles Ranch peanut sauce was very good. We both enjoyed the rolls, but I did wish that they were a tad colder. These were almost room temperature, which I felt mellowed the taste. Still, I would recommend them.
J. and I were not sure what we were getting into with the Crispy Happy Pancake. The plate that arrived was a platter, and nearly every inch of it was covered. The large egg pancake/omlette covered half of the plate and was stuffed with shrimp and pork. Bean sprouts, cucumber matchsticks, carrots, Romaine lettuce leaves and nuoc cham were served as accompaniments. We split the pancake and the omlette was very good with a very good crunchiness on the outskirts of the pancake without the eggs being burnt. The shrimp and pork were plentiful inside and we were very appreciative of the fact that the vegetables were cold and fresh.
We had just finished picking at the last of our pancake when our entrees arrived. J.’s Pho was a huge bowl of steaming broth and I could see a plentiful addition of meats. Along side the bowl was a small plate of bean sprouts, lime wedges, chili, and a stalk of basil with several leaves on it. J. added a solid dose of the ingredients and the aroma from the soup made my mouth water, particularly with the addition of the lime. J. dove in and tried bites of everything. J. had never had tendon or tripe before, so that was the first order of business. After several bites, J. said the tripe and tendon were “interesting” but didn’t find much flavor in them. However, that was not to be said about the sirloin, brisket or meatballs, all of which J. raved about. But the big winner was the broth. J. said it was rich and filling and was not overly salty. I could tell by the sudden drop in conversation that J. was enjoying the soup.
My dish was also quite large and the scent from the chicken was excellent. What surprised me was the fact that atop my vermicelli was not only the chicken, but also some grilled pork and two small egg rolls. Various chopped vegetables also graced the noodles and a side of nuoc cham also was served with my dish. The chicken itself was wrapped around a small stalk of lemongrass and then grilled. It was moist and slightly sweet. The pork was excellent with its smokey flavor. The eggrolls were very good and piping hot. The mix of pork and vegetables inside the egg rolls were also very good. The vermicelli was soft and thoroughly cooked without being mushy. The nuoc cham was an excellent addition to this dish that brought all of the flavors together.
We finished our meals and declined the invitation to have dessert. We simply did not have any room. While we were quite full, we were not uncomfortably stuffed. We requested our bill and the total was $35.03 including tax. Considering the freshness and quality of the food, we thought this was a very good value. Service was friendly and very efficient and our server was very helpful in making sure we had plenty of everything we needed.
We left and drove back to East Phoenix. J. and I thought that our visit to Noodles Ranch was a great success. We didn’t have any complaints (save a few minor preferences) and would recommend it in a heartbeat. It was very good Vietnamese cuisine.
As we pulled into East Phoenix, I addressed the question of where we should go for dinner. J. asked that I offer a suggestion.
The loud shrieking sound you heard Saturday afternoon was J.’s response when I suggested Claim Jumper.
2765 North Scottsdale Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85257
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 11 AM to 8:30 PM. Closed Sundays.
Notes: On the southeast corner of Scottsdale and Thomas Roads.
Additional photos from this review can be found at www.feastinginphoenix.com