Gigi vs. American Noodle Bar Noodle Bowl Battle


Gigi's version
Gigi's version
Michael McElroy

at Short Order, we're huge fans of the noodle bowl. From near-transparent cellophane strands to thick egg noodles, and from a light miso base to a thick shoyu broth, we find it cures the 3 a.m. postclub blues like nothing else. For years, we asked the food gods for cheap noodle shops à la San Francisco and New York City, and the past two years we've come close to a reward via Gigi and American Noodle Bar. Both offer pocket-friendly renditions that don't sacrifice quality ingredients. But does either offer the bowl we've been waiting for?


Pork ramen noodle bowl ($12)

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Pros: There's just no denying that the thick, bright-yellow-orange yoke of an

organic egg is especially flavorful. The poached one in this ramen bowl

is fluffy on the outside, gooey on the inside, and a perfect

texture-complement to crisp shallots, snow peas, shredded carrots, and corn. Pork

is evenly split into juicy shreds and thick morsels, parts of it nicely caramelized.

American Noodle Bar bowl
American Noodle Bar bowl
Bill Wisser

Cons: The broth doesn't really do it for us: meaty but lacking any other

discernible vegetable flavor, watery (the egg, once pierced, gives it a

little more body, but it still remains thin), and overly salty for our

taste. And for $12, we don't expect hand-pulled ramen, but the texture and

uniformity of the noodles in this dish recall the $1 packaged variety.

Authentic-ramen snobs would shudder.

American Noodle Bar

Pork shoulder noodle bowl in a duck broth with snow peas and deep-fried, soft-boiled egg ($9, with add-ons)

Pros: The broth is hearty and flavorful and arrives piping-hot. The

deep-fried, soft-boiled egg is delectable -- crisp batter containing an

oozy yolk that immediately cooks in the broth and gives it even more

bulk. Pork shoulder is juicy and flavorful and melds into tender shreds.

Cons: On one occasion, snow peas were noticeably not fresh, and the lifeless

discs battled the American-Chinese-style wheat flour noodles in a game of

what feels more rubbery and bland? And ANB's bowls are heavier, an oily

sheen (probably deriving from the deep-fried egg) rising to the top.

Verdict: Neither noodle bowl really stands up to those in cities with larger Asian-American populations. But we happily settle for American Noodle Bar's version. The freshness of

vegetable add-ons might lack at times, but the broth is overwhelmingly

more flavorful and thicker than that of Gigi's ramen rendition.

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