119-2323 32 Avenue NE
Calgary, AB T2E 6Z3
(403) 250-9808 Open Weekdays 11am-10pm; Sat 5pm-10pm
Many restaurants come and go from our lives. There one minute, gone the next. It’s a hard reality, the restaurant business – most establishments don’t succeed. Quality and price aren’t the only things that matter; location, and a certain element of luck matter as well. With a high failure rate, very rarely do we see restaurants make a second go around – My Marvin’s, the institutional Calgary smoked meat shop has recently tried, to very mixed success. Noodle King, which closed and sold their 17th Avenue SW location, has reappeared as well, this time in the NE.
Noodle King is another in the long line of family owned Vietnamese operations in Calgary. When they opened up on 17th Avenue SW, they provided a wonderful alternative to the mediocre selection of Pho and Bun available on the Red Mile. With friendly service, large quantities, and great quality food, they quickly became a favorite of mine. And then one day, inexplicably, they were gone. When i caught wind from a friend that they had reopened in the Airways Centre off of 32nd Avenue NE, i enthusiastically ran over for lunch. I was greeted with warm hellos – acquaintances renewed over long stories and a plate of Cha Gio. It was as good as ever.
The defining dish at Noodle King is the Pho Sate. Its defining characteristic is definitely the rich, creamy broth; the traditional broth of garlic, chilies, peanuts, laced with coconut milk. This is not for the faint of heart. A *large* bowl of soup, chock full of slightly too firm noodles, slightly “cut too thick” beef, and fresh veg. Ringing in at $8.95, it is a meal in a bowl. The rich and heady broth is intoxicating, and worth every penny.
The rest of the Noodle King menu is a potpourri of SE Asian dishes and flavours. They have an eclectic variety of dishes, including Cambodian Soup, Bun Bo Hue, Wor Wonton, etc.. most of these dishes are not memorable. However, their Bun comes in a bowl of equally large size when compared to the Pho Sate. A great mix of ingredients, the meat lacks quality standards of the better Bun establishments in town. However, they make up in quantity what they lack in quality.
With busy lunch hours and an expanded space, Noodle King is proving that restaurants can make a come back. Based on the lunch crowds, their new NE Calgary location has clearly filled a void in an area seriously lacking a Vietnamese presence. While their success is well-deserved, the fact that most of their clientele are new customers, not old ones from their 17th Avenue SW location, only goes to show that the success of the second go around rarely has anything to do with the first. Thankfully, the good people at Noodle King have been successful at both locations, so I can continue to enjoy one of my favorite Pho Sate’s in town.