101 Noodle Express Solidifies Westfield Culver City As Best Mall Food Court in L.A.
If there is a better work day lunchtime set up than the mall food court, I haven’t seen it. What other place can you go with your co-workers (or family for that matter) and everybody be able to get what they want. You’re in the mood for a turkey sandwich but I want shitty Chinese food? Food court can make it happen. You want a salad, but I’m in the mood for- oh who am I kidding. I always want the shitty Chinese food. Point is, food courts have got something for everybody.
Recently food courts have taken to looking outside the standard fast food joint model that has dominated the scene for decades. The Westfield mall in Century City is well known for their upscale food court, which features a number of interesting and kind of upscale options. And I’ve explored the hidden mysteries of the Santa Monica Place food court. But nothing could adequately prepare me for the announcement that 101 Noodle Express, the San Gabriel Valley institution famous for their beef rolls, was now open in the Fox Hills Mall Westfield Mall Culver City. Could this be the Chinese food savior the westside has been praying for?
Sadly it’s looking like the answer is no. I was hoping that early reports were just that- early reports. And that eventually this location would get their act together and serve something that might save me an occasional trip to the SGV. But that went away after one look at the menu- which has been heavily food court-i-fied.
The rolls are served in 2 or 3 piece portions (3 pieces is the equivalent of a whole roll in the SGV) with your choice of side dishes, but even after being open for over a month the only side dish they have is french fries. (Yes, you read that right. They are serving french fries.)
And that’s not the only thing that is still M.I.A. The chicken dish that 101 Noodle Express is also famous for isn’t even on the menu, and the only soup they have is beef (the guy behind the counter said they will probably never have seafood at this location.) The menu also says you can get your roll with turkey instead of beef, but that hasn’t happened yet either (and hopefully it never will.)
They’ve added pan fried dumplings (6 dumplings plus french fries for $7!?) since Squid Ink first checked it out a few weeks ago, but I wouldn’t bother with them.
And they also have minced pork noodles and dan dan noodles for $6.50.
Could I imagine the Guru putting this in his 99 Things to Eat Before You die list? Definitely not. But that’s not a surprise. I don’t think this location is actually owned by the same people who own the famous location in the SGV. The guy behind the counter made it sound like it was the same family, but not actually owned by the same people. In other words, nobody is going to be driving across town to eat at the Culver City branch of 101 Noodle Express. But for food from a food court it wasn’t terrible. And even though I would have liked the beef roll to be a little crispier (and cheaper!), the dan dan noodles were decently spicy and had a good flavor. And the shoestring fries were actually great, in that McDonald’s fries are awesome kind of way. If you can manage to block thoughts of SGV out of your mind, this is actually a pretty good food court lunch. Good enough, in fact, to propel the Westfield Culver City’s food court into Best in L.A. territory.
In addition to 101 Noodle Express they also have a Kyochon (hello Korean fried chicken!)
And Ono, if you’re in the mood for Hawaiian food.
If you’re like me and can’t resist shitty Chinese food, they have the king…
… as well as the king of shitty, mall food court Japanese hibachi, Sarku (home of the double meat add on!)
If you want sushi, they also have Sarku’s sushi offshoot, which does a good job of being cheap but not completely terrible.
And if you want Greek, they have Big Fat Pita- which I have always been a fan of.
And just to make sure that every single Asian food is covered… a Vietnamese place that could be worse.
Hell, they even have Mongolian BBQ!
Admittedly, they lose points on Sbarro and Cilantro (couldn’t you have sprung for a Baja Fresh!?)
But they make all those points back with what could be the sleeper hit of the Fox Hills Mall Food Court: Stone Oven.
I’d normally ignore a generic looking sandwich place likes this, but the bread they were baking fresh in the oven lured me in. That and the long line. Ignore this spot at your own risk.
Now I know what you’re thinking. “Zach! What about Hot Dog on a Stick? Surely a corn-dog less, lemonade deprived food court could never be considered the best in L.A.?”
Second floor baby! Just below the food court. Along with other mall staples like Orange Julius, Cinnabon, and Mrs. Fields cookies. And a location of Five Guys Burgers and Fries!? This isn’t even fair anymore.
They even have a branch of Red Ribbon, the shitty (or so I’ve been told) Filipino bakery that serves up super cheap lunch specials.
So while I may have been slightly disappointed with the new branch of 101 Noodle Express, and I’m not entirely convinced they’re going to get any better, I’ll probably be back soon for another beef roll or maybe even a bowl of Dan Dan Noodles. That is if i can keep myself away from Panda Express.
Got a food court you think matches up to Fox Hills? Put it in the comments… I’d love to check it out. (You know. For science.)
Westfield Culver City, 6000 Sepulveda Blvd, 310-390-2020