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Bamboodles: More noodles in the SGV

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Bamboodles (you know you will like saying that name over and over) has two great things going for it: freshly-made noodles in a variety of flavors, and soup broths made without MSG. For those of us who love the foods of the SGV but are MSG-intolerant (hello, migraine!), Bamboodles is a welcome new choice.

The noodles are rolled out with a huge bamboo stick by the noodle maker,who works in a glass-fronted area, leveraging the stick with his entire body to roll out the dough. This, claims Bamboodles’ management, makes the noodles springy and special. Depending on what’s available, you can order regular noodles or various flavored varieties including carrot and spinach.

In a mini-mall location at the northeast corner of West Valley Boulevard and New Street in San Gabriel, Bamboodles occupies two storefronts. The restaurant has actual décor, ivory leatherette booths interspersed with tables, and a less-rushed atmosphere than some of the other SGV standouts. The menu is simple: appetizers, soup noodles, lo mein (hot noodles with saucy accompaniments), cold noodles, dumplings, and two vegetable selections. There is little on the menu for a vegetarian.

The appetizers are good little nibbles and reasonable at $1.95 each: celery and peanuts, bean sprouts and bean curd, seaweed and potato, and preserved vegetable with pork. The bean sprouts are mingled with shredded firm bean curd - which in this form seems like yet another kind of noodle - in a light and mildly spicy sauce. There is plenty on the plate for 2 or 3 to share.

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The soup noodles are the highlight, and the Green Tea Pork Noodles are reputed to be Bamboodles’ specialty. The pork has just enough fat and is simmered in green tea; along with fresh spinach noodles and some greens (gai lan, Chinese broccoli) in a very mild broth, this is a very satisfying bowl of noodles, especially for the low low price of $6.50. My dining companion, who went back twice that week with her husband, reports that the wontons in the Wonton Noodles were good, but that the Green Tea Pork Noodles were the better choice. The soups include Chicken Noodle, a traditional cold remedy, and Preserved Vegetable with Pork Noodle soup, my preferred Chinese cold remedy. I am not going to wait until I have the sniffles to try this one!

The lo mein and the cold noodles come with the flavorful sauces either on the side or on top - not mixed in - which may disappoint some. I hear good things about the sauces, however, especially the Spicy Beef Lo Mein, which the menu notes is “limited to 100 servings.” Bamboodles’ dumplings are not the reason to come to this restaurant, but the House Special Dumplings were indeed juicy and had good flavor; the skins were not thin, but these were clearly freshly made (not to order, Bamboodles makes all its dumplings for the day the morning they are served) and tasty.

The “Daily Fresh Vegetable” was Chinese greens with a side of oyster sauce, perfectly steamed. Beverages include Honey Chrysanthemum tea, “French Coffee,” Lemon Tea, Lemonade, and “Lemon Honey,” for those of you who fear scurvy or just want to pump up your Vitamin C.

Bamboodles is worth the trip for its fresh soup noodles - and if you like a late lunch or an early dinner, from 3:30 to 5 p.m. everything on the menu is 20 percent off (the sign was in Chinese on our table, so you might have to ask). Fresh noodles and dumplings are also available to go.

535 W Valley Blvd
San Gabriel, CA 91776
(626) 281-1226

Parking is in the mini-mall lot and can be horrendous at busy hours.