Among the many other unexpected and bizarre events that have occurred this year, the opening of the elusive Daddy’s Noodle Bar in Storrs Center was a pleasant surprise for the UConn community to wake up to last Friday. Last week, passerby noticed how the “coming soon” sign that hung in the restaurant’s storefront for the past two years was suddenly switched out to announce their “grand opening” for Aug. 28. Whether it be the culmination of two years of anticipation, the excitement for a new restaurant in the area or the need for a good bowl of food, customers lined up over the weekend to try the assortment of noodles, rice dishes and beverages that Daddy’s Noodle Bar had to offer. A combination of the accessible location, clean and welcoming atmosphere and perhaps most importantly, authentic and enticing food makes the restaurant a welcome addition to liven up Storrs Center.
“I was very excited to eat Daddy’s Noodle on opening night!” Grace Brangwynne, a fifth-semester political science major, said. She tried the shoyu paitan ramen and thai tea. “The food was worth the wait all these years.”
The menu offered a solid offering of authentic Vietnamese appetizers, vermicelli bowls, ramen, pho, rice dishes, beverages and desserts. The price range was fairly affordable, with the entrees ranging from $10 to $12 for meat options such as beef, chicken and pork as well as vegetarian choices. The banh mi, a Vietnamese baguette sandwich stuffed with veggies and pork, offers an inexpensive meal at $5.50.
For a hearty lunch, I ordered a bowl of the shoyu paitan ramen for an affordable $10.95, which is served with tonkatsu pork broth, chicken, fish cake, a soft-boiled egg and scallion. The broth was flavorful but not too salty, which is a plus for when you’re trying to slurp up the bottom of the bowl. The large chunks of roasted chicken, bone and flavored skin and all, might seem intimidating to novice chopstick users, but it’s a plus in my book, as there was a good balance between the meat and fat. It’s a pretty impressive amount of chicken for the price, which I appreciated, although I do wish there was more of the typical ramen mix-ins, such as bean sprouts, nori and bamboo shoots. The noodles were not mushy at all and served at the right level of al dente. Overall, the bowl was delicious and a comfort to eat, despite the warm weather outside.
“Daddy’s Noodle Bar served up some solid ramen, good for whenever you need a fix,” Steven Tiberio, a seventh-semester management information systems major, said. He enjoyed a bowl of the shoyu paitan ramen with a bottle of lemon tea. “The place was clean and had a good atmosphere.”
Nestled between 7-Eleven and Dog Lane Café, the restaurant itself doesn’t necessarily have the most square footage, but the layout made for an efficient use of space. A cash register with the menu in front and a fully-stocked takeout area greets you as you walk in while countertops and bar stools border the walls of the dining room. The process of ordering first then sitting down or taking out is not only practical for a college campus, but also made to accommodate the changes to the restaurant industry from COVID-19. Large panes of Plexiglas separate the customer from the counter and the staff were all wearing masks. Although Brangwynne did make note of the lenient social distancing enforcement outside during the busier hours.
“My only concern was that the place filled up quickly, and there was little social distancing enforcement,” Brangwynne said. “People both inside and outside of the restaurant were wearing masks, so that was reassuring.”
Although I’ve certainly had more delectable bowls of noodles at other restaurants around the state (and on my travels to Japan, but of course, I can’t compare to such locations), for being days after opening and in the middle of cow country, Daddy’s Noodle Bar is an excellent option for students who just want a filling meal and don’t want to brave over a 20 minute commute for other options. I certainly have my eye on a few of the other menu offerings for next time I visit, like one of the pho options, as well as trying the various flavors of bubble tea (mango, honeydew and taro are on my list).
The Storrs storefront is the second location of Daddy’s Noodle Bar, the other residing in East Lyme, Conn. According to the business’ Facebook page, it’s the fourth restaurant that owner Anh Duong has opened in the state, and is open every day of the week from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fortunately, the authentic Vietnamese eatery stood up to the hype, providing a bright spot for students at the beginning of a bizarre semester.