Using Your Noodle: Exploring Anoho’s New Options
Middletown seems to have a never-ending supply of Asian- or Southeast Asian-style restaurants, with two each of Indian and Thai eateries, and at least that many Chinese and Japanese options. However, not until 2010 did an all-around noodle place—a staple in any metropolis—finally arrive in this college town in the form of Anoho, which is short for “Asian noodle house.” Although Anoho could have had difficulty pitching its food in a cut-throat noodle environment like Middletown, the extensive menu, casual environment, affordable prices, convenient location, and delivery service make it a tempting option for hungry students.
Though it opened somewhat recently, Anoho is already hoping to change and improve its offerings. On Monday, Oct. 1, Anoho started offering sushi and desserts, in addition to a variety of new beverages, appetizers, and entrees on its already diverse menu.
We had the opportunity to sit down with the owner of the restaurant, 23-year-old Thomas Wang, to talk about the (brief) history and future of the noodle house. Wang and his manager, Daniel Ho, immediately won us over by offering us two cups of steaming hot tea as soon as we entered the restaurant.
“Almond black tea is one of our specials,” Wang explained.
Special it was. We both agreed that we could drink this stuff by the gallon. The beverage combines black tea with an almond base and what we imagine is a significant helping of milk and sugar. It’s not the healthiest tea, but as far as taste is concerned, it is the most delicious and comforting beverage we’ve had in Middletown. After just one sip, we could tell that this was the beginning of a very close relationship with Anoho.
Though slightly distracted by our tea, we managed to learn a good deal about the changes Anoho has been making lately, most of which revolve around its menu. For one, there have been a few improvements regarding its appearance. The layout is different, with a clearer format and more in-depth descriptions of the noodles, such as comparing their thickness to that of Western-style pasta in order to cater to the average American customer. Anoho is proud of what it serves, and the staff wants you to know exactly what you’re getting.
There have been some price changes as well. Sauteed noodles have gone up 45 cents because Anoho has added more vegetables to the dishes.
“This gives them a more balanced substance,” Wang said.
Traditionally, noodle dishes have very few other foods added, but Wang wants diners to leave feeling full and satisfied. In addition, udon noodles used to be slightly more expensive, but now they are the same price as all the other noodle types.
“We offer very affordable food at competitive prices but also make it good quality,” Wang said. “We target middle-income families and students. They like to come here and just hang out. It’s two blocks away, and you don’t have to dress up or make reservations.”
As well as being affordable, Anoho aims to please.
“We find out what clientele want through the Yelp page, website inquiries, and word of mouth,” Wang said.
With this much input from the public, it’s no surprise the menu is always changing. Last year, Anoho added several vegan and vegetarian options based on popular demand. Now there are also a variety of gluten-free offerings that are particularly popular among Wesleyan students. The newest additions mark the largest change the menu has seen thus far.
“With clientele and growing popularity, we can offer a little more variety for people,” Wang describes.
The new items cover all the bases. Not only are there small changes—such as adding jumbo shrimp to supplement the regular shrimp already on the menu, or more vegetables in the noodle dishes—but there are also a number of brand-new dishes, including bonbon chicken, rock baby shrimp or chicken, several sushi appetizers, and a sushi and maki section, as well as a variety of chef-recommended specials such as teriyaki chicken, salmon, or steak; lemon grass chicken; and a vegetarian dish called green wok.
Alcoholic drinks such as sake bombs, sake slushies, and beers are also now available. Additionally, the unique dessert menu features offerings that are not available anywhere else in Middletown.
“We really had to compete with Middletown’s desserts,” Wang explained.
Main Street already has its fair share of upscale bakeries, frozen confection shops, and Asian restaurants serving items such as fried ice cream and other typical Japanese specialties. To stay competitive in this market, Anoho looked for selections that would help it stand apart from the other popular eateries in town. With sweets such as mochi ice cream, which is offered in vanilla, green tea, and mango varieties; taro and ginger crème brûlée, Anoho achieved the goal.
Ho, who is also the head dessert chef, brought us samples of the mochi ice cream and ginger crème brûlée, and we can attest to the quality of both of these options. The mango mochi, which is creamy yet refreshingly fruity at the same time, was a personal favorite of ours. The crème brûlée has the traditional texture and taste of custard with the subtle but distinct tang of ginger.
“This is going to beat all the competition,” Ho said with a grin on his face, as he watched us quickly devour the sweet creations.
So what should you get next time you go to Anoho? We would obviously recommend the almond tea for a flavorful, creamy treat. For an entrée, don’t be afraid to “noodle it!”
“My traditional is Singapore curry with rice noodles,” Wang said. “It’s not a harsh curry. It’s lighter, and you won’t get overwhelmed by the flavor. I do it with the rice noodles because they’re really good to sautée.”
But what about the new sushi?
“That’s kind of a tough question because every roll is unique in itself, but for me the best is the Princess,” Wang said. “Three fish are better than one.”
Indeed, the Princess roll includes three types of fish: tuna, salmon, and yellowtail tuna, along with avocado and spicy mayo.
Judging by the newly expanded menu, it’s clear that Anoho is trying to be a go-to choice for Wesleyan students. It’s even arguably the most versatile Asian eatery on Main Street. Whether you want to do sake bombs with friends, lounge at a sushi bar, or enjoy a hot noodle soup in the comfort of your room, Anoho can give you exactly what you’re looking for. The restaurant is taking strides in all the right directions, and won’t be stopping anytime soon.