Fox Hills 101 Noodle Express Morphs AGAIN
Poor 101 Noodle Express in the Fox Hills Mall. With all the fat food blogger talk of “there is no good Chinese on the westside” one can easily see why this SGV mainstay opened up in the food court of a Culver City Mall. Kyochon seems to be doing alright in the same location, and who doesn’t like a scallion pancake stuffed with sweet meat!? Answer: most people who eat at the food court of the Fox Hills Mall. Their opening menu touted turkey as a possible filling, and french fries as a possible side dish for their famous beef rolls. It didn’t matter to true fans, who were just happy to have something resembling a beef roll on the westside. But clearly it didn’t go over well with the food court regulars.
Fast forward a few months and the french fries were gone, along with the pan fried dumplings and a decent version of dan dan noodles. The beef roll remained, and could now be paired with food court style teriyaki chicken and a special ground chicken dish that was actually pretty great. It was a food court fanatics wet dream. (Translation: it was my wet dream combo… and a ton of food for $8.)
Sadly it appears that I may have been the only person is obsessed with both beef rolls and food court teriyaki chicken, who also regularly visits the Fox Hills Mall. Because recently they unveiled a completely new menu, and my beloved combo is gone.
Thankfully the beef rolls remain, untouched. $3.99 for a half order (3 pieces), $6.99 for a full roll (6 pieces.) They also still have the ground chicken dish, but sadly you can no longer get them both as a combo.
The only real “combo” that remains is a new fried fish plus spicy chicken rice plate with veggies ($7.99 and it come with soup.) The spicy chicken wasn’t terrible for a mall food court Chinese place, and I’ll eat anything that’s battered and fried, but I don’t think I’m going to be getting this one again.
Pan fried dumplings (with shrimp and spinach) are back, and much better than the ones they had when they first opened, but for $7 they’re also not good enough for a repeat order.
I’m sure a lot of people were excited to hear on Chowhound that xiao long bao were now on the menu, but these had more in common with something you’d get on a flight from LAX to China (if they were to serve soup dumplings on airline flights) than what you get at Din Tai Fung. Don’t get me wrong… if I got these on an airline flight I would be pretty damn excited. But it’d still be airplane food.
Dan Dan Noodles remain MIA, but they did add a few noodles dishes to the menu including noodles topped with that minced chicken that used to come in the #5 combo, and these: Chinese long beans with minced pork ($8). Think Asian bolognese with string beans. This dish was actually pretty good for a mall food court, especially once you added their signature chile oil sauce.
But the real saving grace of the menu is the soup section. They’ve always served beef noodle soup, but the new menu also has spare ribs noodle soup, oxtail noodle soup, lamb noodle soup, a chicken noodle soup, and a spicy version of the beef noodle soup (which is incredibly popular at the original location.) We tried the oxtail soup ($7.99), which was flavorful and fragrant with a wonderfully tender, giant collagen filled oxtail floating on top. Fans of the original 101 will undoubtedly be disappointed by the lack of noodle selection (they use the same thick spaghetti in all the soups and dry noodle dishes) but besides that it’s a pretty great soup.
Are the soups enough to save the best thing that has happened to the Chinese food scene on the Westside since… well… since ever? Probably not. And I’m pretty bummed they got rid of my favorite combo. But clearly it wasn’t selling well, and you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to stay in business. Third time’s a charm doesn’t tend to apply in the restaurant business, but the beef rolls alone will keep me supporting 101 Noodle Express until the day they decide to give up the dream of being the next Panda Express.
101 Noodle Express, 6000 Sepulveda Blvd in the food court of the Westfield Mall Culver City (fka The Fox Hills Mall)