It'd be easy to dismiss Nudo Nudo, the latest venture by the guys behind Afters Ice Cream, as a noodle house for the Insta-obsessed Asian foodie set. After all, it's got that kind of vibe — neon lights, Instagram wall, bold typeface on the walls — but look past all that and realize it's in the middle of Little Saigon. Like, literally the middle of Little Saigon: It's on Bolsa a block east of Moran (also known as the capital of Vietnamese-language media in the US), two blocks from Asian Garden Mall, and three blocks from the place where I buy my tires.
For a noodle shop to survive in this space, it's got to have substance to back up its shine, and substance Nudo Nudo has in spades. And while it serves above average pho (top 20 percent easy) at competitive prices ($6.50 – $7.50 a bowl), the pho isn't even the best thing on the menu.
No, if you're going to visit Nudo Nudo, make sure you try as many of the appetizers are you can.
The best are the oxtail fries, a potato worth of starch topped with braised oxtail, hoisin, siracha, some other sauce, onion, and a mess of herbs most commonly found in pho. I'll be honest, I'm kind of tired of eating stuff poured on top of French fries, but the oxtail is cooked so tender and tasty that I've ordered it every single time I've been, and I still kind of crave it now.
And as good as they are, they almost get bounced from the top spot by Nudo Nudo's fried chicken. It's an appetizer appropriate-sized order of dark meat chicken (the best kind of chicken) battered in a cross between Taiwanese popcorn chicken batter and tempura, resulting in deliciously juicy morsels of light, flavorful poultry. The batter-to-meat ratio might throw some of you off, but the batter is so light and the chicken so tasty, that I honestly feel they got it perfect.
If you still have room for noodles, know this: Nudo's only been soft/grand opened for a little over a month and the crowd is as mixed as can be. You've got your Asian foodies, your old first-generation Vietnamese, and plenty of 1.5 geners too. They all leave pretty happy, and their pho can only get better once they finish their secret brisket addition..