My first reaction to Boom Noodle was, “Wow, this place reminds me of Blue C Sushi!” Same breezy modern decor, same Japanese urban kitsch, same fetishizing of young Japanese girls wearing knee socks. A bit of googling revealed why: This place was started by the same folks. (When no one sends you press releases anymore, you actually have to do your own background research.) No wonder my 6-year-old immediately announced she wanted a cream puff when she entered the premises (both places offer “Tokyo Sweets,” aka cream puffs, for dessert).
My tasting companions on this trip were all under 4 feet: a 4-year-old, two 6-year-olds, and an 8-year-old. All four kids are child prodigy gourmands who’ve eaten at way too many fancy restaurants, so they make great tasters. The 4-year-old’s first observation was that the space was “too loud.” And indeed it was–the folks at Boom seem to have carried the concept over to the acoustics, but noise is a typical side effect of artsy, high-ceiling, exposed beams decor.
The kid’s menu is one of the best I’ve seen outside Honolulu–bento boxes with a choice of chicken skewers, braised pork loin, gyoza, fried shrimp, or fried tofu ($5.95). The gyoza arrived burnt, but the two hungy kids ate them anyway. There was a bit of char on the chicken, which caused one child to turn her nose up at it, while the other one wolfed it down. Another youngster sitting at our same table had the ramen ($4.50); she seemed to enjoy hers far more than the bowl of shitake soba ($9.50) that I got, which was beautifully presented:
The broth–a critical component of any Japanese noodle dish–was actually quite good. But the noodles were overcooked, and I couldn’t find a mushroom to save my life. My friend John’s Tokyo ramen dish ($9.95), was not at all close to what he enjoys in Tokyo on a regular basis. “Too much pork, sliced too thick,” he said. Still, for these prices, we’re willing to compromise.
The curry potato korokke ($4.50)–potato croquettes–would have been lovely had they not been bludgeoned with curry powder. The kids each took a bite and made faces, spitting out the offending mouthful into their napkins. The mizuna salad ($9.95) was composed of the sturdiest, most mature mizuna I have ever encountered–they were mizuna on steroids. I felt like a cow as I munched through these strangely flavorless greens. Grilled chicken was supposed to be garnishing this salad; it must have fallen off in transit. Tori karaage ($5.95), Japanese fried chicken, had a hard time measuring up to my friend Megumi’s home-made version. John tried it and pronounced them just OK. The drumettes were huge; the chunks of chicken small and overcooked.
Regardless of its imperfect cooking, business will most likely Boom here (couldn’t resist). Its approximation of Japanese noodle shop fare and izakaya bar food is adequate enough to fool anyone who’s never actually eaten in Japan. Boom clearly understands its target demographic, which is the same as its sister restaurant Blue C’s: From 5-6:30 the long communal tables are filled with families with young children. After hours, the highly tempting and well-lit bar probably reels in the bar-hoppers and wild young things.
Despite the fact that the food was just OK, I’ll probably go again. The price was right, the kids actually ate something healthy, and it’s not too hard to get to in a minivan (street parking after 5pm, however, is a tough prospect).