Originating in Japan more than a century ago, traditional ramen began showing up in New York City around twenty years ago. In recent years, restaurants specializing in the unctuous bowls of broth and noodles have opened in both St. Louis and its suburbs.
But none of them has been as greatly anticipated as Nudo House (11423 Olive Boulevard, Creve Coeur), which opened in late July in Creve Coeur. Three years in the making, the eatery is the “little sister” of Brentwood's beloved Mai Lee, according to co-owner Qui Tran.
Tran essentially grew up in his family’s successful Vietnamese and Chinese restaurant, which has been in business more than 30 years. He and his business partner, Marie-Anne Velasco, spent the last three years taste-testing their way across the United States, training with Shigetoshi Nakamura — one of four recognized ramen masters in Japan — and testing their recipes at pop-ups around town.
Qui describes Nudo House’s menu as “simple, fast and satisfying.” There are four types of ramen offered. The “classic Nudo” features
The “Hebrew hammer” is made with chicken bones cooked for sixteen hours that produces a similarly creamy, emulsified broth.
“O’miso spicy” is made with pork broth and earthy sesame miso. There is even a ramen for vegetarians — the “shroomed out,” which is made with oyster mushrooms that impart a rich, savory flavor.
There are also four varieties of pho offered. The classic Vietnamese soup is made with beef, chicken or shrimp, along with rice noodles and an enticing mélange of herbs.
And that's not all. A cold appetizer menu includes lotus root salad, sesame noodle salad, pickled kimchi, spring rolls and crab rangoon. For those interested in a meal between two slices of bread, Nudo House offers a pork and pickled vegetable bánh mì and a “bánh mì pho dip,” which is a riff on a French dip sandwich. It's made with shredded flank steak that's been cooked in pho stock, and served with au jus made from its broth.
It's not all savory: There is also soft-serve ice cream – a different tropical flavor every day.
The restaurant, which seats 70, is located in an otherwise unremarkable strip mall in west county — a location that Tran says the partners chose for a reason. “There are a lot of restaurants in the city and an un-served market in Creve Coeur,” Tran explained. “We wanted to open an independent restaurant out here, in what is, essentially, a business district.”
The restaurant has only been open for a little over a week and is already wildly popular. Its first Saturday sold out, a fact that seemed to both please and frustrate Tran.
The restaurant does not have its liquor license yet but will be offering beer and sake by the can.
Nudo House is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Scroll down for more photos of Nudo House.