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Noodle lovers satisfy their cravings in downtown Cleveland
This month Noodlecat celebrates its one year anniversary on Euclid Avenue near Public Square
by WKSU's VIVIAN GOODMAN
This story is part of a special series.


Reporter
Vivian Goodman
 
Fresh local produce makes it special, and a lot of it comes from the West Side Market where Noodlecat opened a second location in April.
Courtesy of Zachary Duvall
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Diners are slurping up the comfort food of Asia in downtown Cleveland. Since last summer near Public Square and since April at a second location inside the West Side Market, “Noodlecat” has satisfied the cravings of noodle enthusiasts. WKSU’s Vivian Goodman reports on today’s Quick Bite, that the restaurants’ owner found his inspiration while working in New York City.

It's slurpalicious

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Chain restaurants surround Noodlecat on both sides.
Sit at the bar or at tables. Lunchtime gets pretty busy.
Chef Sawyer invented the character of Noodlecat.
The bar's television usually shows the Cartoon Network.
Chef Jon Seeholzer is a partner in the business.
The noodles come from Ohio City Pasta, just across the bridge.
There are classic old-school Japanese noodles and also modern Tokyo style bowls.
Chef Jonathan Sawyer worked in New York City and was a big fan of its noodle houses.
Combos include any noodle dish with a salad or two steam buns with a salad.
It's a busy kitchen and some of the staff also work at Jonathan Sawyer's other restaurant just around the corner on E.9th Street, the Greenhouse Tavern.

 

Jonathan Sawyer is often seen these days on the Food Network along with Michael Symon and Cleveland’s other celebrity chefs. But Sawyer came up the hard way. He honed his skills in the hot kitchens of New York City and says his favorite spots to relax after a long shift were the city’s many Tokyo-style noodle shops.

Had to get his noodles on

He missed those ramen, soba and udon soups when he came back to Cleveland.

So, just a couple years after opening the Greenhouse Tavern on East 4th Street’s restaurant row, Sawyer and his partner, chef Jonathan Seeholzer, opened Noodlecat just around the corner on Euclid Avenue.

The restaurant’s vibe is modern, casual and fun.  The Cartoon Network blares from the bar and the smiling logo,  Noodlecat, a Japanese anime character, is a prominent part of the décor.

Fresh local noodles

The soba, udon ,and  ramen noodles are handmade at Ohio City Pasta and delivered fresh twice a day.

Brand Manager Bridget Rehner says the difference is in the shape and texture.

 “The udon noodles are going to be the thicker noodles like you would find in almost like a stir-fry. The ramen noodles are the thin noodles that you would think of that we all used to eat in the freeze-dried packages. And soba noodles are buckwheat noodles.

Mash-ups

“We have some that are more of a traditional take on Japanese noodles and then we have some that we call our mash-up noodles that are kind of Chef Sawyer’s twist on it. So those are a little more of the fun creative ones like we have an Ohio beef brisket and matzoh ramen, ramen with beef brisket and matzoh balls in it. And then we have your very traditional like a Kyoto mushroom udon, which is just a very simple kombu stock with mushrooms and tofu. It’s more of a traditional style.”

Rehner says when you open the menu, don’t be scared by the terminology:

 “Words like yakatori, which really just means chicken skewer. So it’s not weird and strange; it’s really approachable. You just have to take the time to read it and ask questions.”

Octopus stir fry

Chef Jon Seeholzer says  he braises octopus for a couple hours during the day. “Then we’ll cool it down, slice it paper-thin, use the tentacles and the bodies and then toss it into a stir-fry with udon noodles.”

Pork miso ramen comes with double-smoked bacon, miso, scallions and greens. And we just had to ask the chef about that matzoh ball ramen Bridget mentioned.

 “We have out yudaya-jin ramen, which is matzoh ball with beef brisket, ramen noodles, dill. We try a little bit of everything, staying in the Japanese influence for the most part but we do an Ohio beef burger steam bun. Just you know Ohio ingredients done in a Japanese style.

Dessert is special, too

Another specialty is steam buns.

“Basically, it’s Japanese white bread; instead of baked it’s steamed. It’s kind of like a taco shell almost and then stuffed with various things. We do fried chicken, pickle bun, pork bun, pork belly barbecue bun, lots of different things.”

You can also get sparkling sake and French press coffee at Noodlecat and if you can slurp right through to dessert, try the chocolate peanut butter steam bun.

The main restaurant is open daily and a new West Side Market location is open on Mondays and Wednesdays. 

And that’s today’s Quick Bite. Next Friday we’re headed to Kent’s “Tree City” where a professor runs his coffee shop by the book.


Related Links & Resources
Noodlecat website

 
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