Where Locals Go

Noodles @ Boba Tea House

Review by Frank Geslani  |  Photos by Lorraine Haan-Stewart

Noodles @ Boba Tea House is a popular noodle joint. Popularity doesn't normally notch bonus points in my tally, but N@BTH's second location in Alliance Town Square proves that finding a mainstream audience doesn't mean compromising on quality. There are still a few random acts of sushi, but the food may actually be getting better as its fanbase grows.

I'll start with the pho: a big, steaming bowl of noodles, sliced beef (or chicken) and broth. N@BTH nails its broth, which is clean tasting but imparts the essence of beef stronger than the meat itself, and hints subtly of star anise, cinnamon and clove. Good broth makes good pho, and N@BTH makes very good broth. Meat choice really hinges on oneâs disposition at the time of ordering. Feeling adventurous? Go for tripe and tendon. Feeling timid? Ask for thin slices of eye round steak. Catch a cold? Chicken will do you good. For me, their meatballs are always a solid pickâflavorful with a firm, almost crunchy texture.

For a full throttle soup experience, order their spicy beef noodle soup its broth fortified with lemongrass and chili-spiked heat, noodles thicker than the standard pho variety, and an array of meats and veggies combine for a highly substantive meal. If you prefer your noodles less soupy, you can't miss with grilled pork and egg roll vermicelli. Pour nuoc cham (a vinegary, umami-rich Vietnamese dipping sauce) over the room temperature noodles, warm meat and egg rolls, crunchy peanut, then toss. It brings the cool lettuce and shreds of raw carrot up from the bottom of the bowl and transforms the dish into a refreshing panoply of temperatures and textures.

N@BTH's best dishes are often its simplest. Their grilled beef and rice plate is as straightforward as it gets grilled slices of marinated beef, slices of tomato and cucumber, and steamed rice. I find myself ordering this dish more than any other. It hits every major food group, it's generously portioned, and despite its simplicity, it's marvelously seasoned. Ubiquitous orange chicken, a kid's menu staple, is actually one of my favorites on the menu. It has a fine, frittery crunch without the heaviness we've come to expect from run-of-the-mill Chinese takeout. (Pro tip: add an over easy egg and egg roll for a piddling $1.50 to take any rice plate over the top.)

The not-so-quiet stars of the show are the "boba teas," a catch-all label for their selection of smoothies, slushes, and milky beverages augmented with chewy boba (tapioca balls). We're fans of their avocado smoothie, taro milk tea, and mango slush, but Mocha Madness a coffee smoothie with swirls of chocolate is the hardest to resist. It gives the Frappucino a real run for its money, and we think the addition of boba gives the Mocha Madness an edge against the Starbucks favorite.

The original N@BTH on Beach and Basswood has a healthy neighborhood following, but now that they've branched out into Alliance Town Square, they're siphoning diners through nearby chains like Fuzzy's and Chili's, too. But, unlike that indie band you once loved but has grown tiresome since breaking into the Top 40, success hasn't diminished the appeal of N@BTH.

Personally, I'm glad they've largely kept sushi off the menu at the new location. They're free to focus on what they do bestâaccessible (but still totally legit) pan-Asian fare with a Viet-twist.

Noodles @ Boba Tea House | 9180 North Freeway Service Road East | Suite 504 | Fort Worth 76177
(817) 750-2121 | noodlesbth.com