It seems as though noodle shops have gotten increasingly popular within the last few years. I hear of my friends ordering ramen or pho dishes more often these days. Either this blog has helped me crawl out from under a rock, which very well could be the case, or society has a new-found appreciation for these noodle and broth dishes. Let me flatter myself and assume the latter.
When my sister suggested that I try Tanpopo Noodle Shop I quickly agreed. These days I am not one to miss out on any food hype — it’s research people. So, the other night we headed to the Northern Warehouse building in Lowertown St. Paul for a quick bite. I’m going to be honest with you and emphasize that my knowledge of Japanese noodle dishes is extremely limited, whatever I say from here on out is merely from the point of view of a noodle novice.
We arrived at the Northern Warehouse building, a large brick building built in 1908 by the Northern Pacific Railway and later redeveloped into a Warehouse Artist’s Cooperative for affordable living and studio space for artists. It’s a beautiful brick building in St. Paul not far from the Mississippi river.
We entered the noodle shop and were quickly greeted by a friendly server and immediately ushered to a table near the kitchen. The restaurant wasn’t overwhelmingly busy, but it seemed as though it was filled with a few regulars. One patron approached the kitchen and conversed with the chef who was sending her home with a bag of goodies. A few men seemed to be getting their usual dishes brought out to them before they even needed to order. It was a very cozy environment with a small group of staff. Dare I say the Cheers bar of noodle shops?
Being new to the udon and soba noodle scene, I had quite a few questions for my server before I ordered. She explained the difference between the noodles and confirmed that my menu choice was a good one, I ordered the combination tempura with udon ($11.75). Maddie chose the wild mushroom udon ($9.75). We decided to split the tempura shrimp appetizer ($8.75).
When our meal arrived, we quickly devoured the tempura platter. It came with two shrimp and various veggies. We devoured the meal, barely taking a breath between bites. It was delicious. As far as fried foods go, tempura is one of my favorite ways to eat it. The light tempura batter makes it feel a little less heavy and greasy.
The noodle dishes came out soon after. I have to say I was impressed. The noodles were a great texture and the broth had a wonderful light flavor. On paper it seemed like it would be very similar to Pho or ramen dishes, but the differences were noticeable. The Udon noodles were a heavier noodle than I have had previously and the broth was not quite as flavorful as Pho. Despite these differences I still thoroughly enjoyed my meal.
At the end of the meal, our server brought the bill. At Tanpopo Noodle Shop your bill always includes a 15% service charge. Their philosophy is that they can best serve their customers by working as a team. Therefore, everyone helps wait on each table and they all split the tips. If you aren’t pleased with your service you have the option to request that the service fee be removed. Personally I kind of liked this idea. With everyone working together, we were never in need of anything. Maddie and I finished our meal, settled our bill and we were off.
A large open dining room in a beautiful historic warehouse building.
Extremely efficient. With the whole staff sharing the load, we were never waiting on anything.
Beautiful dishes filled with a tasty meal.
Noodles covered in a delicious broth, surprisingly wonderful on even the hottest of Minnesota days.
Value for Dollars
Not the cheapest meal around, but a good experience none-the-less.
But don’t take my word for it!
Tanpopo Noodle Shop
308 Prince St
St Paul, MN 55101
Tanpopo Noodle Shop on Facebook
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Tanpopo Noodle Shop on Yelp