Noodles & Company

I have a bit of an addiction to Noodles & Company. At least once a week I end up there for lunch. It's just super convenient to my work and service is so fast! It's pretty cheap for a big bowl of noodles. There are "Italian Mediterranean," "Asian," and "American" options. In quotes because I don't quite trust the authenticity of any of their ethnic dishes. But I don't care about that, because they all taste good! So for around $8 you can get a huge bowl of noodles plus a protein. OR a smaller bowl of noodles plus a soup or salad and a protein. Pretty good deal if you ask me, especially for dinner. And you don't have to tip! At least I never do. They don't have a tip jar after all, and it's not an option on the receipt.

I rotate through several of the different noodle dishes. Most often I order the Pesto Cavatappi, pictured above. It's not too basil-y which I like. And it's garlicky without being overpowering. It has a few veggies in there, mostly mushrooms and a few random tomatoes, but not quite enough to be healthy. Lately I've been adding asparagus which is delicious. It does add an extra $1.25 to the price though. You could buy a soda with that extra money! I always get the parmesan crusted chicken with the pesto. It is delicious. Yummy crispy/crunchy cheese all over and I've never gotten any sketchy pieces.

The other "Mediterranean" dish I get a lot is the Penne Rosa. It is penne pasta, obviously, served with a spicy creamy tomato sauce. The sauce is delicious with a surprising kick. And it's creamy without being too rich. The veggies are wilted spinach, mushrooms and tomatoes. Like the Pesto Cavatappi, I usually order it with the parmesan chicken.

My other top choice is the Japanese Pan Noodles. Thick udon noodles in a dark spicy/sweet dark soy sauce carmelized slightly from a quick pan fry. Sometimes they are a little crispy on the outside which is awesome with the chewiness of the noodle. Included vegetables are carrots, yummy mushrooms, and too few broccolis. It would be more perfect if they included more pieces of broccoli, you're lucky if you get four. For the protein I've ordered it with shrimp, which was just okay, seared beef and tofu. Both the tofu and beef are good choices, they pair really well with the sauce. I keep meaning to try the Indonesian Peanut Saute, but I always end up with the safe choice, because I know it's good. Maybe next time!

If it's cold and/or rainy or if you're in a bad mood or feeling like you need something rich and comforting the Mushroom Stroganoff is the way to go. Thick, wavy egg noodles in a creamy stroganoff. You can taste the sherry really well in the cream sauce. I order it with the braised beef, which is always extra tender and tasty. The Wisconsin Mac & Cheese is also great for a comfort food fix. It is cheesetastic and delicious. But SO rich. The regular portion is just too much cheese and pasta for a normal human. But leftovers are good!

Go to the Noodles website for the full menu. You can also sign up for the email list and get awesome coupons. For signing up I got a bogo coupon for a regular size order. Anyway, it's not like gourmet or anything but it is cheapish and filling and tasty.

Noodles & Company
Bloomington Von Lee
517 E. Kirkwood Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47408
Phone: (812) 323-1400


Sushi Bar

Of the four sushi restaurants in Bloomington Sushi Bar is probably the cheapest. They have a good balance of cheap rolls ($3-$5) and specialty rolls ($9-$15). But just like most sushi spots it's easy to rack up a huge bill by adding a few extras to your meal.

There are a few rolls we always get at Sushi Bar. The Asparagus Tempura Roll is great, with just enough eel sauce to keep it moist. We often get a Sweet Potato Tempura roll which is usually pretty good. They have a large selection of vegetarian rolls and, of course, they tend to be cheaper than the rolls with fish. A fairly cheap yummy roll is the Crispy Spicy Yellowtail, which is best if it's served hot. It can get kinda mushy if it sits around. The jaguar roll is good if you're in the mood for some deep fried deliciousness (see it at the bottom of this photo). A lot of their fishy rolls have tobiko in them, but if you want a roll where it's the main event try the Angel. It's one of Sushi Bar's more expensive rolls. Also good for a splurge is the Statue of Liberty Roll, which is topped with lobster. Not super high quality lobster but still yummy. My absolute favorite roll, though, is the Tiger. It has spicy tuna or crab (not sure which...) inside with fresh tuna, tempura flakes, and spicy sauce over the top.

Last time Mariann and I went we tried the Twins Roll, pictured above and here. It was okay. The mango on top was good but the texture wasn't great and it wasn't particularly flavorful. If we could just order a selection of rolls from Japanee, Mikado, Domo, and Sushi Bar I think we could create the perfect meal. Anyway, more on those restaurants later.

Sushi Bar
2522 E. 10th St.
Bloomington, IN 47408
(812) 331-7688
Check out the menu at Straight2YourDoor.
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