Noodle World Jr., 2440 W. Arrow Route (at Monte Vista), Upland
This small chain opened a location out our way in April 2014. Technically it’s in Upland, but it’s only a couple hundred yards from the Claremont border. In fact, with Claremont McKenna right across nearby Claremont Boulevard, it’s possible Noodle World Jr. is closer to some of the campuses than any other restaurant.
Pay attention, students: Noodle World is a sit-down restaurant with locations in Alhambra, Monterey Park, Pasadena, San Marino and Westwood; Noodle World Jr., which is only in Hollywood, Downey and now Upland, is fast-casual (order at the counter) and with a limited menu.
It’s pan-Asian, with items representing China (fried rice), Japan (ramen, udon), Thailand (various noodle dishes) and Vietnam (pho). And they have boba, although not enough to satisfy a boba connoisseur. There’s seating inside as well as outdoors in a covered courtyard with a high dome roof.
I’ve been there three times so far. First time I got garlic chicken ($8.25, pictured below), which is chicken sauteed with garlic flakes, served on rice. I’ve had this at Thai restaurants like Mix Bowl and this was a very good example. I also had a Thai tea with boba ($3).
Next visit I tried the spicy beef ramen ($8.25, bottom), which has tonkotsu broth, noodles, bean sprouts, seaweed and stewed beef. I’m no ramen specialist, but this made for a satisfying meal on a cool evening. (A professor friend at the colleges calls this “an A- rendition of the classic.”) A taro smoothie with boba ($3.75) hit the spot too. Since then I’ve been back for beef steak with rice ($8.75), another winner.
This won’t replace favored Asian spots in the 626 or beyond for those who can parse ramen varieties or know regional Chinese cooking, but for a local option, especially in Asian food-poor Upland and Claremont. Noodle World Jr. is quite welcome. And I suspect it’s practically an unofficial Claremont Colleges dining hall.