What could be a better meal on a stormy Saturday night than a hot bowl of noodles? This is what we thought as we chose a place for dinner last weekend. Kaydara Noodle Bar, located at the corner of Main and Goodell in downtown Buffalo, was top on our list.
We made our way to the front door without blowing away, excited to find that low-key, almost “divey” noodle bar we are familiar with from the Pacific NW. We were amazed to find a large, multi-level restaurant with a huge open kitchen and bar counter, linen napkins and candles. We were greeted and seated immediately by our waiter. It was quiet in there that evening, likely because of the weather, but we were happy to get a counter seat and dive in to some pho and udon.
We pondered the menu, listened to the specials and settled in for some Pacific Rim comfort food. Kaydara does not have a liquor license yet but they make some nice house made fruit juices and teas. We ordered a bowl of beef pho, chicken udon and pork & chicken steamed dumplings to start.
As we waited for our food we scanned the restaurant to take it all in. The space is very large and has a lot going on. The kitchen was busy preparing food and the front of the house staff appeared to be busy doing side work. It seemed as if they were not clear it was time to be open and ready for guests. The radio was still on blaring a rock and pop station with more commercials than music. One server was ironing napkins at the counter where we were sitting, another server was cleaning the upper level in the corner and there was a work prep table in the middle of the dining room that may have been forgotten after mopping the floor. It just looked as if they were in the middle of pre-setting the room for service though it was actually 7 pm on a Saturday night. I happen to love open kitchens to see all the action. But if you are going to have all your inner workings in front of everyone, you must be prepared to be part of the show.
Our first round of nibbles came out and we were so excited to try everything. The beef pho had a balanced, rich broth and a generous amount of noodles and beef. I happen to love the fragrant herbs & vegetables typically served on the side to top your pho, so I missed that component in their version. They did serve a bowl of bean sprouts and lime to add to the soup, as well as a tray of sauces, which includes hoisin, hot sauce & soy. So the pho ultimately had the sweet, salty, bitter and sour flavors that make up the taste senses found in much of the food in Southeast Asia. I would have liked some Thai basil, scallion and hot peppers to add but the soup was really good and hit the spot.
The chicken stir-fried udon noodles were excellent. The noodles were cooked perfectly and the salty-spicy stir-fry had just the right amount of heat. The homemade steamed dumplings were our favorite of the first tastes. The light dumpling and rich filling topped with ponzu melted in your mouth. They were some of the best I have tasted.
Our next round of plates consisted of sweet and sour chicken with a side of steamed rice (for our 6 year old), spicy black bean pork riblets with green pepper and broccoli and the daily fish special which was a domestic swordfish, with an apple fennel salad. The sweet and sour chicken was done really nicely with a crispy skin and a nice sauce. The chicken was moist and flavorful and was devoured with the bowl of steamed rice. The pork riblets fell off the bone and melted in your mouth as well. The sauce has a good sweet heat to it that made you keep going back for more. Asian – fusion BBQ at its best. The swordfish special was interesting. The fish was cooked perfectly with a good sear and juicy inside. The sauce on the bottom of the plate was a spicy-salty-acidic chili sauce that went really well with the apples and fennel. The apple, which was julienned, was a terrific autumn addition to this dish. The fennel was prepared in large rustic cuts and seemed to take over the plate. The fennel fronds that garnished the entree were a better mix with the apple for balanced flavor atop the swordfish. I opted to eat less of the large fennel pieces and happily finished the plate.
Jen, who I believe is a chef/owner, came around to all the guests eating in the restaurant to see how everyone was enjoying their experience. I find this to be a great practice for restaurateurs, as it makes the guests feel welcome and appreciated. Jen told us about some of her product sourcing and that the chef, Chef 2/2, formerly of “O” is bringing all the Southeast Asian love to the menu! Maybe he could bring in a few CD’s in too and nix the radio.
We left there feeling satisfied and glad to know there is a noodle house in our area.
Kaydara Noodle Bar
777 Main St
Buffalo, NY 14203