Jacques Driscoll is tired. Happy, excited, and thrilled that Johnny Noodle King, his new ramen noodle restaurant in Corktown, had its grand opening this weekend, but tired. Service was non-stop right from the start once the doors opened on Friday at 11 a.m. with hungry customers already waiting to get in and didn't slow down until the last noodle bowl hit the table for 3 p.m. closing time. These hours are just temporary with extended hours to come later this fall, hopefully by the end of September, beginning of October.
Some favorites were the house-made pork gyoza— 5$ made with scallions, cabbage and a side of ponzu, which seemed to be on everyone's table, the $7 bacon rice— a bowl of sticky rice topped with bacon, Ume glaze, dehydrated pork, some scallions and slices of cucumbers, and the shoyu bowl— $11 with pork belly, nori, egg bamboo, kamaboko, and bonito.
When asked about the opening, Driscoll first touched on pricing. He said he felt some of the dishes were a marked a bit too high and was contemplating a slight reductions for a few of the appetizers. This, he clarified was due to some changes in recipes and he wanted to extend the added value back to his customers. Next was the pho broth. Chef Les Molnar is currently using a pork-based broth, which is a bit thicker in consistency than the traditional beef-based broth that one traditionally expects to find when ordering pho. Johnny Noodle King is not a traditional Japanese noodle house and Molnar is being creative with his recipes right down to the use of ramen in lieu of soba or other traditional noodles. That being said, customers can be surprised when ordering a classic by name, then experiencing something else, so Driscoll and Molnar made the decision to treat pho as pho when it comes to the broth. Finally, take-out menus will be available starting next week so be sure to grab one for the office for those days when waiting for a table isn't an option.
Yes, opening a restaurant is hard work. Yet Driscoll is very much aware and awake when it comes to the food his kitchens produce and his customer's enjoyment of that food.
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