Not Just Noodles at Kaydara Noodle Bar

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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
(716) 768-0038
www.buffalonoodlebar.com

 

About the author  ⁄ Kristine Hornung-Pottle

12 comments
citydweller
citydweller

Kaydara is one of my favorite city restaurants and usually at the top of my son's list of places to go. As far as decor, that is a personal choice and although it's not the most beautiful restaurant, it's very trendy looking and has a great city-appeal. I had heard that their wine & beer license was taken away because they were caught serving spirits as well. It's a shame because, although I will take my underaged son here, it's not on the top of the list of my friends due to no wine/beer to enjoy with our delicious food. But the chef certainly knows what he/she is doing and hopefully this Hand-slapping on the license will be short-lived.

vhrix
vhrix

They did previously have a liquor license.  

I was told that the issue is that the liquor license belonged to a previous tenant to the property who actually had it under investigation for removal at the time that it was acquired along with the property.  I was also told that they will not be able to obtain a new one due to proximity to the church across the street, that the former license was grandfathered in.

For the record, their broth is good, if not great.  Their noodles are serviceable.  The atmosphere looks really nasty and grungy once the sun goes down.  Definitely a space that, at present, is best lit naturally.  I have had a real problem with service each of the times I have gone.

cutredtape
cutredtape

Three comments/questions:

1.  The restaurant is ranked #184 of 868 restaurants in Buffalo by Tripadvisor.

2.  Re:  "They don't have a liquor license yet."  Didn't they have one and it was taken away?

3.  Re:  "They don't have a liquor license yet." Is it BYOB?

zamedy
zamedy

Agree about the tacky sign hanging in the window. If you're not going to at least invest in a proper sign for your restaurant, how do you expect to be taken seriously?

buffaloroamer
buffaloroamer

Wow!  It is true that when it comes to art, fashion and food, it is all a matter of taste.  I personally like this restaurant and eat there often.  My favorite is the crispy noodles with pork and the fried egg rolls.  Though not cheap, I don't think it's expensive either.  As far as decor.... I lean towards the rougher feel and kind of like the rawness of the space.  My only complaint is that they promote their home made ginger drink and many times don't have it.  Yes a liquor license is needed.  

John Dickens
John Dickens

Not to completely bash this article, but this place is awful.  The food is over priced and the Pho is absolutely atrocious.  I was eating hamburger meat soup.  Can we get a real critique of this place?   Just because it is in Buffalo doesn't mean it is good.  I haven't heard one good review about this place.   Don't even get me going on the service.  I had an hour lunch and it took them 40 minutes to give me my soup.  The only good point is they have fun drinks.  

TewellDouchebaumer
TewellDouchebaumer

To follow up on my comment regarding pricing, noodles are a comfort food. Go to any other city, and you will pay a fraction of what you pay at Kaydara for food that is on par or even better.

TewellDouchebaumer
TewellDouchebaumer

The food here is very good, but overpriced. And they need a lot of help in other areas:

-There is no proper sign, just a  sloppy vinyl banner hanging in the window.

-The interior does not look finished. It looks like a cluster f*** with no clear aesthetic direction.

-There are very strange, tacky toiletries in the men's and women's bathrooms. No, I don't want to use that communal deodorant or nailpolish. Yikes!

pampiniform
pampiniform

@vhrix  

I can see that this place might be too close to St Louis to qualify for a liquor license, but what kind of stupid rule is that?  It sounds like some kind of blue law left over on the books from an earlier time.  The fact that you could be given wine at mass at the church but not while eating dinner across the street at what seems to be an otherwise unassuming restaurant seems kind of silly and contradictory.

Theflagisup
Theflagisup

True words have never been spoken.  I went there with a groupon because I was a little nervous about the place given what I heard.  For starters, $5 for a glass of mango juice and polar springs seltzer?  Second, 6.50 for three dumplings?  I even got chrged $3 for steamed rice, even though I was asked if it "would be OK" .  I had curried pork and it was absolutely disgusting.  Companion at dinner ate about three fork fulls of beef dish.  Over rated and over priced garbage.

redonionconspiracy
redonionconspiracy

John Dickens, I agree with you 100%!  The place had a bunch of dead plants all over the place, the service was really slow.  I ordered Lo Mein and a mango soda, the Lo Mein had tomatoes in it!  Can't say I have ever had that before.  The mango juice added to the soda was fermented, and not in a good way.  All that and expensive too!  Never going back.

biniszkiewicz
biniszkiewicz

@pampiniform @vhrix 

agree and have ranted previously.

This zoning law should be challenged on constitutional grounds. By what special right do church goers enjoy the privilege of picking their neighbors?

It shouldn't matter if there is a strip joint to the right and a casino to the left: church going folks ought have no more control over their neighbors than their neighbors may have on them (which, due to freedom of religion, is nil from the perspective of zoning).

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