Due to odd schedules, some time has passed since I spent some proper time in Sangmu. During the time I was been gone, a bunch of new, delicious places apparently popped up without me knowing. Thanks to so many nice people who made it a point to inform me of some of the area’s new offerings, I have made it a personal goal to remedy this.
Since I first laid eyes upon Noodle Box (all the way in Itaewon), I wanted to try it. Sadly, trips to Seoul often meant filling up on food that would please everyone traveling with me (Mexican, American, Hot Cheetos, etc). When I found out that Gwangju got its own location, I was there within 24 hours of hearing the news.
Hiding inside the busier streets of Sangmu, the small restaurant welcomes people from all walks of life with its bilingual menu and casual interior. One look at the menu was more than enough to fill me with the same excitement I had initially experienced when I first passed by one of its Seoul locations. Even with my lowered expectations and fear of everything tasting a little too influenced by Korean tastes, seeing a menu with offerings like Pad Thai and Mi Goreng was more than enough to fill me with a curious hunger.
Once we found a place to sit, we skimmed over the short, yet informative menu. It was nice to see that each dish offered important details like descriptions, ingredients, and levels of spiciness. After fighting off the urge to order the entire menu, my nom-partner and I ordered the Noodle & Rice Set (Set 1), which came with Pad Thai, Nasi Goreng, Thai Wings, and a soda. We also ordered Spring Rolls and Sweet Potato Rolls to accompany our already large meal.
Due to the nature of the restaurant (everything is stir-fried to order), there was a bit of a wait for our food. I honestly didn’t mind, as it was quite fascinating to watch the lone chef working his magic with a hot wok over a large flame. If anything, I felt rather sorry for the poor employees, considering how hot it was outside (as well as inside, unfortunately). Boo on summer weather!
After growing incredibly hungry from the delicious aromas that attacked the senses, our order was ready for us. Along with our sides came our food, which was hiding inside two adorable (yet decently sized) take out boxes that my American self has always associated with greasy Chinese food. Without hesitation, I happily opened each box and began to dig in. The Pad Thai, though greasy, was much better than I thought it would be. While it’s definitely not the best in the country, it had what I considered to be the main, most important elements of this dish, making each bite as good as the last. The Nasi Goreng, though good in its own way, paled in comparison to the Pad Thai when it came to taste. While I’m sure it would have been great on its own, the intense flavors of the previous dish overpowered everything else. On the bright side, the leftovers were rather good with a touch of Sriracha sauce (purchased elsewhere). The sides, though a bit plain, were a nice compliment to the noodle/rice dishes. I only wish they would have included a little more fish sauce with my spring rolls.
All in all, Noodle Box is a nice step outside of the Korean comfort zone that offers non-Korean cuisine at Korean prices. Though many may argue the authenticity of the dishes, the ones I tried managed to taste legitimate enough to satisfy the cravings. For those of us that don’t live within reasonable distances from areas like Songjeong, this is good news. Seeing how the place is casual and can sometimes get a little warm, I would actually recommend trying the take out option. Maybe it’s just me, but there’s just something about eating stir-fried noodles out of cheap, paper boxes while watching TV that reminds me of happier, lazier times.
Address: 광주 서구 치평동 1233-2 1층 (on the same street as Kraze Burger)
Average Price Range: 6,000-7,000 per dish