Liberty Noodle is one of the latest additions to Liberty Village, with a menu focused on reasonably priced noodle and rice dishes featuring a variety of Asian influences.
There are few things more satisfying in the winter than coming in from the cold to a big, hot bowl of soup, so I took the recent frosty weather as an excuse to hunt down a big bowl of ramen.
My dining companion and I started things off with a pot of toasty Genmaicha tea ($4.00) and the curry beef gyoza ($6.00), fried beef dumplings served with a bowl of chili soy dipping sauce. The dumplings themselves were crispy, greasy bundles of flavour and there is not much danger someone will mistake them for healthy food. The dipping sauce added a spicy, salty kick to the rich dumplings, and after the gyoza were finished I glanced around the restaurant to see if I was being watched while I considered just downing the rest of the sauce in one big slurp. Manners prevailed in the end, but it was close. The gyoza were definitely the highlight of the meal.
We followed that up with two noodle bowls. The first, the Hot and Sour Ramen ($9.00), came as advertised with a substantial (but not extreme) amount of heat and nice acidity. The chicken was tender, and shiitake mushrooms added some earthy flavour. The ramen had a nice bite to it without being too al dente.
Our second bowl, Curry Beef Ramen ($10.00), featured a mildly spicy Japanese curry broth with thinly sliced rare beef, garnished with scallions and a bit of cilantro. The beef was tasty and perfectly cooked. The broth was good too, though given the portion size of Liberty Noodle's bowls (huge), it sort of blended into the background by the end of the bowl.
We weren't even remotely hungry after our giant ramen bowls, but we couldn't resist ordering a menu item as audaciously named as the Garlic and Garlic noodle plate ($6.00). I loves me some garlic, so the sound of a plate of ramen noodles in garlic sauce, topped with crispy fried garlic was intriguing in a "really glad I don't have a job interview after this meal" sort of way. The plate delivered big time on garlic, though the fried garlic slices were more chewy than crispy, and probably could have used a bit more time in the fryer. Also, in case I haven't emphasized this enough, this dish is garlicky. It was great as a side dish, but eating a whole plate for lunch might be a bit much.
Liberty Noodle's website proclaims their goal to be a "$20 experience at a $10 price point." That may be more marketing than reality, but as far as delivering a solid bowl of noodles at the $10 price point (plus some darn tasty gyoza), Liberty Noodle's ramen bowls are as good a way to warm up as any.