June 28th, 2009 by Jihye Chang
The owners of Leela and Thai Orchid opened a noodle bar called “Drunken Noodle,” on NP avenue (the old Green Market location) recently. Drunken Noodle is a name of a Thai noodle dish. I read about this dish in “Bon Appetit” magazine a few years ago – that it is a very spicy noodle that makes you drink a lot of water afterward, hence the name. Drunken Noodle serves not too spicy drunken noodle along with several noodle dishes and pasta dishes. This restaurant used to be the Green Market. It is spacious and simply decorated. All the dishes are under $7, and food is served super fast. Pad Thai is too sweet for my taste, and the drunken noodle dish has too much jalapeno taste in it (and a bit too salty). But Bah Mee Gaeng (Coconut soup with noodle) is tasty, although it sometimes contains too much fish sauce. This restaurant is open until 3am on Fridays and Saturdays. Someday I will go there at 2am, eat the Bah Mee Gaeng super spicy, and then head to Fargo Coffee Co. for some espresso..!
Update (Sep. 21, 2009) - I went to the Drunken Noodle at 12:30am on September 19, Saturday, and it was packed..! Amazing. I wonder if it’d be the same when it’s -30F outside.
Another new restaurant is Kobe’s. I visited that place three times with my husband and friends, and my husband decided that he never wants to go back. It is an OK place for family gatherings or experiencing “hibachi” (the fire show and everything), but not for sushi – especially the rolls. They are big but not a lot of fish slices are used (the proportion between rice and fish seems off in general). Sushi rice seems to be poor quality (somewhat gummy and sticky), and all the sauces they use for rolls and appetizers are too sweet and mayonnaise-like. Service is friendly and fast/ prices are not bad.
Update (October 2009) – I convinced my husband once more to visit Kobe’s with some of our friends. It was rather a disappointment, and I don’t want to go back there, either. Rolls are covered with too much sauce and rice is still gummy, grilled dishes are too sweet (especially their teriyaki sauce – too gluey and has unpleasant taste). Kobe’s website states that the chef at Kobe’s consider the rolls are “all about sauces.” Well, there you go. I think I will pass on those sauces and eat something else. Salmon Passion was pretty good, but that was the only thing that we liked among about 6 dishes we ordered that night. Kobe’s is doing really well, though. I think it hit the right note with a lot of people, just not with me or my husband.
Update #2 (December 2009 and January 2010) – Wasabi restaurant opened at the back of Drunken Noodle. I like a few of their rolls (Nothern pacific and spicy salmon). In my opinion it is better than Kobe’s as the balance between the rice and other ingredients is much better, and the overall taste is cleaner, but I have not ordered their nigiri or sashimi. (In fact I almost never order Nigiri sushi or sashimi in any of the small city sushi places. Most of these places use frozen fish and pre-cooked or prepared ingredients. For example one cannot expect unagi or egg rolls cooked from scratch from any Japanese restaurants in mid-small cities in the states. I have eaten a lot of sushi and sashimi in various places from Japan to New York City, and I know what I like and what’s worth my money. Wasabi has a few things that I would spent my money on. Wasabi also serves Korean style Galbi (or Calbi – short ribs marinated in sweet soy mixture and grilled) and Bulgogi. Galbi was pretty good (standard restaurant taste, so to speak), but Bulgogi was a bit too salty and the meat was not of a good quality. They also added a few lunch box items. Bulgogi lunch box is $9 (Galbi box is $15), and it comes with soup, rice, 2 pieces of California roll, fried chicken pieces, salad, and bulgogi or galbi. Decent taste and decent price that’s worth a try. I would not say it’s a great restaurant, but it’s in downtown -and I love Fargo downtown!- and it’s good enough. So I will probably go back there again when I have some roll-craving or seaweed salad craving..