Thinking Outside the Noodle Box

Cross this bridge when you come to it

Lily Chow, who's behind the counter most afternoons, came up with most of the sauce recipes in her own kitchen, through many trials and errors, along with the half-dozen side orders: panko fried shrimp cheese balls made with cheddar and shrimp ($5.75), mini samosas served with garlic aioli ($4.75), shrimp and chicken gyoza, spring rolls, and miso soup. The shrimp balls are instantly familiar and addictive, like conch fritters or fried chicken tenders, offering a savory goo held temporarily in check by a crunchy panko shell. Mini samosas were eminently edible but pale shadows of the real Indian deal. Noodle Box's Pan-Asian offerings are good and filling, but none of it will knock you for a loop the way a real Malaysian, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Korean, or Thai meal will. But that's asking too much of fast food, isn't it?

Joe Rocco

Details

Noodle Box, 4337 N. Ocean Dr., Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. Open 11 a.m. till 9 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Saturday and Sunday 3 till 9 p.m. Closed Tuesday. Call 954-772-6888.
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A 24-ounce highball of bubble tea and a box of noodles makes for a pretty substantial meal and will set you back around $15 (noodle or rice boxes are $8.50 with chicken, pork, or tofu; $9.50 for beef or shrimp). That's pricier than you'd expect for a self-serve walk-up counter, when Micky D's quarter-pounder and a coke still comes in well under $10. Two of us even managed one night to spend almost $50 with sake and side orders; that's about what you'd spend on dinner at most mom-and-pop Thai or Chinese places, which offer a lot more variety. I'd guess the relatively high prices factor into Noodle Box's slow business at least as much as that dinky little bridge. Even so, it's a bridge worth crossing.

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