LONDONDERRY, NH – News of noodle houses travels fast in New Hampshire. Possibly because nothing like Crazy Noodle exists within an impulsive drive from my house to anywhere else in New Hampshire.
So when I saw that a new restaurant was opening that specialized in Asian cuisine, and in particular, a variety of soup dishes featuring ramen (wheat or egg noodles), pho (rice noodles) and udon (thick wheat noodles), I had to make the 12-minute drive on I-93 south to Exit 4 to taste for myself.
It was the grand opening on March 15, after the soft opening a week earlier for the eatery, which is nestled in the Londonderry Commons shopping plaza on Route 1o2, amid a landscape of other interesting eateries and storefronts.
Those who made it in time for one of two informal ribbon-cuttings were promised dibs on a piece of the ribbon, which could be used to get a free drink with every return visit during the month of March.
I took a seat with my two noodle-loving partners in cuisine and ordered a Thai tea, with bubbles, aka tapioca pearls.
I could have passed on the bubbles, but offered them to one of my dinner partners, who eagerly dumped them into his glass.
Then, we scanned the menu, and agreed to try three different versions of noodle soup, with tasting rights to all three.
When we arrived to the restaurant there were plenty of open tables, and free samples of appetizers were making the rounds. But the intimate restaurant quickly filled up, delaying one of our orders by about 10 minutes, behind the other two bowls.
No problem, because the soup came out hot and fragrant, and we wanted to take it all in, anyway.
I opted for the Japanese ramen with chicken, a miso broth, over the Soul ramen, a spicier Korean version, on this trip. The udon with fish balls was a new experience for me. I enjoyed the slippery feel of the udon noodles as I slurped them, and the fish balls were also interesting. The broth was less memorable than the other two dishes, but in all, the trip was a success.
And that led to return visit a few days later, to sample more menu items and of course, the free drinks – just to be sure that Crazy Noodle was consistent (and true to their promise of free drinks.)
On the second visit I opted for a chicken pho, while my dining companions went for the spicy Korean ramen, and the Japanese ramen I had tried previously. All dishes were up to par, with the Soul ramen being the star of this trio of soups.
The menu includes a dozen appetizers from Sriracha wings and Crispy Lemon Shrimp, to Takoyaki, an octopus dish. In addition to a dozen soup varieties and a dozen more pan-fried noodle dishes, there are also salads, combo plates and kid-friendly options.
And if your giant noodle bowl isn’t enough to fill you up all the way, there are also ice cream desserts, including banana tempura, Churro bowl and green tea ice cream.
We were told during our first visit by Eric Guideng, who was serving up the samples, that Chef Korakot “Big” Aramsri had retired from the noodle business after a successful run in Los Angeles, but after moving to New Hampshire – and seeing the need for her noodle services here – she decided to get back into the kitchen. He also mentioned that there’s a family connection between Chef Aramsri and Bankok Thai, just a few doors down in the same plaza. I was too busy slurping noodle by this time to take more notes on that.
If we had any complaints, it might have been that the service was a little sluggish, but given it was opening week, and the dining room was full, we’ll look past that, as we anticipate our next noodle soup outing – still plenty of free drinks to cash in on before the month is over.
Crazy Noodle is located at 44 Nashua Rd., #6 in Londonderry, 603-965-3291, or 603-965-4914. You can eat in or take out for lunch and dinner. Hours are Mon. – Thurs. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Fri. 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Sat. noon to 9:30 p.m.; and Sunday from noon to 9 p.m.