One For the Rugrats: Boom Noodle Up, Running and Killing It in University Village

A month, give or take a few days. That's how long the newest Boom Noodle has been open in University Village. We wrote about it's scheduled opening back in May when owners Steve Rosen and James Allard thought they were going to make a July 1 date, and you know what? They were pretty damn close. The doors were actually unlocked on July 5--which is impressive considering that, at the same time they were building out their third Boom Noodle they were also working on their first Tokyo Sweets--a Japanese crepe shop that opened in the former home of Atlas, right next door to the expansive new Boom.

So anyway, call it 36 days. And yet just a little over a month in, Boom Noodle is killing it, with overflow crowds spilling out into the yuppie-choked alleys of University Village, and there's a line down the friggin' block for Tokyo Sweets. I didn't make an official count, but it looked like about every fourth person there last weekend was carrying a to-go crepe from the new shop. It was really quite something.

Still, I was more interested in noodles than crepes when I dropped by to check in on the new operation. A couple of early observations:

1) The whole Asian minimalist design scheme that people have been declaring dead for a decade? It's still very much alive and well. The whole of Boom Noodle looks more like the perfectly scrubbed and dressed movie set in a hip Tokyo cafe than it does a working restaurant.

2) Well, except for the fact that the whole place--from the bar, back to the main floor and the outdoor patio--is absolutely overrun with customers. Saturday afternoon, in what should've been a dead hour between the last straggling lunch tables and the first early dinner hit, the joint was easily three-quarters committed. And by the time I was done there (by 5pm, easy) there was already a wait. Of course, a whole lot of those customers are...

3) Babies. And not-quite-babies. And older children snapping away with training chopsticks like two popsicle sticks stuck together. Because of the U Village address and the average demographic breakdown of the U Village crowds, this might be surprising to precisely no one, but I was shocked by the unbelievably high percentage of under-12's on the floor. And Boom caters to them brilliantly--offering awesome little bento box kid's meals and servers trained not to roll their eyes every time they see a stroller approaching.

To my mind, this is both good and bad. It's good because restaurants that cater (even if just slightly) to kids are restaurants that are helping to raise an informed and educated next generation of diners. It's bad because I'm sick to fucking death of the whining of idiots who complain about kids in restaurants and, for them, Boom would probably be a nightmare of Inferno-like proportions. You want the Olive Gardens of the world to win? Then just keep chasing parents and kids out of good, independent restaurants where junior might actually get to taste an alfredo sauce made by hand, by a real chef, rather than one squeezed out of a bag by some nose-picking fuck up in a paper toque just trying to get enough money to put new rims on his IROC.

4) Enormous crowds, big rushes and strollers aside, the staff is still not quite all there yet at Boom. Though my ramen and pho were both serviceable and seemed to have the potential for both speed and greatness, there's room for improvement. Then there were the appetizers that were completely forgotten by the floor staff, and the fact that, after two reminders, they were finally brought just as I was finishing off the last of my noodles with no explanation and only the most glancing attempt at an apology. There was missing silverware and some confusion with the final check, but all of this can, 30-odd days out, still be chalked up to a crew getting their legs under them and a complete operation suffering from the shock of immediate and overwhelming success.

If Boom can pull it together and get the machinery of prep and service running smoothly, it's going to be an unbelievable success--both among the rugrats and those pushing the strollers. And if it doesn't?

Well, then for the sake of Rosen, Allard and all those involved, I hope those Tokyo Sweets crepes remain REALLY popular.

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