Saturday, February 13, 2010

Zenna Noodle Bar, Brookline

Dan and I had some lunch together this afternoon! Sometimes I feel like we are ships passing in the night since he works days and I work nights.  Our delicious lunch was enhanced by the rare opportunity to have a conversation during the daylight hours.  We chose Zenna Noodle Bar, one of our favorites here in Brookline. We've been going there for a couple of years now, and they consistently serve a good lunch.  It's affordable and the food is always fresh and flavorful - oh they were playing Pink Martini on their soundtrack today which we both love!

This afternoon, I felt like something light so I tried their "Zenna" noodle soup with fried tofu, enoki mushrooms, snow peas, and assorted veggies, a first for me.  I added some of the fantastic tamarind sauce provided to my broth, and WOW!  It was a flavor explosion.  The tofu absorbed the flavor of the sauce and I even enjoyed the subtle use of cilantro, which normally isn't my favorite.  It's difficult to imagine a more satisfying vegetarian soup. Dan had the delicious "Zenna" noodle soup with chicken, which is his favorite there.  It looked great with a good amount of thinly sliced strips of white meat floating in a beautifully aromatic broth with, of course, plenty of delicious noodles.

We usually get an order of their fabulous Vietnamese style Spring rolls - and sometimes two orders because they are that fantastic.  They remind me of Spring rolls that we used to get a place my dad took the family to every Friday night for years back home called Acadian Seafood.  We opted against them today in the interest of keeping our lunches light, but they are not to be missed if you haven't been there before.

I like the style of the menu that Zenna offers.  It's organized by fire, water, earth, and wind featuring soups, stir-fries, appetizers, salads, and curries from all over Southeast Asia.  There is plenty of opportunity to change things up by mixing proteins and sauces for main courses and they even have a build your own dish section sort of like a Korean barbecue concept.  It's hard to get bored with all of the possibilities. Another favorite dish in the past, and a standby for me, has been duck with vegetables, red curry, and noodles.  It's sweet from the coconut milk and a little spicy from the Thai red chili paste.  I enjoy the balance of their subtle curries in general.

The wine list is small but there are some pretty decent bottles and a couple of good glass pours that work nicely with the food. They offer a much nicer selection than the typical Asian restaurant does in my neighborhood for certain.  And, if you're not in the mood for wine, they make a delicious sparkling limeade. Dan loves their mango smoothies.  I think they even offer bubble tea if memory serves me correctly...

Lunch is always a calm and enjoyable affair at Zenna Noodle Bar.  It's clean, affordable, and service is always friendly and quick.  We have yet to try them for dinner, but I'm sure the experience would be equally satisfying.  However, I feel like lunch is their best value.  Dinner portions are likely larger, but I don't think they sacrifice quality at all with what is served in afternoon.  All in all, a great lunch spot, and a wonderful little place to know about in our neighborhood.


  1. I remember Acadian Seafood very well. Remember "momma's special"? Your dad sent someone there and told him to order it and they would not serve it as it was for VIP's only. I believe those spring rolls were complimentary. The sauce was almost like a tartar sauce as I recall.

  2. the ones at zenna are the closest i've found. they were so delicious. i dream about them.