Over the past few days, Cleveland Facebook users have been catching glimpses of a cheeky noodle-slurping feline. The mascot is heralding the opening of a new Japanese noodle shop, Noodlecat, but the real mystery has been the identity of the owners behind the Cheshire-like grin.
Well, the cat is out of the bag.
"We wanted to have some fun with this," explains chef and owner Jonathan Sawyer. "We love the [Greenhouse] Tavern, but everything about it is huge, romantic, intense. With this we didn't want to take ourselves too seriously. It's noodles in a bowl for $10 to $13."
Billed as a Japanese-American mash-up, Noodlecat takes its cues from the popular quick-casual noodle bars in New York City and elsewhere. Much of the menu is built around filled steamed buns, noodles in broth with garnishes, and Asian-tweaked starters, salads and sides.
"The idea was to do the same thing we did for Roman pizza at Bar Cento for Japanese noodles here," explains Sawyer. "To present hyper-traditional dishes exactly how you would see them in Japan alongside modern versions with clever twists and seasonal ingredients."
Sawyer says that he is a huge fan of this style cuisine and felt a need for it here. The 55-seat restaurant, to be located in the former Theresa's Pizza near E. Fourth and Euclid Avenue, will serve food that is "hyper-specific to the genre," says Sawyer. That means no pho, no curry, no glass noodles, no sushi. "We want the noodles to be the star."
When it opens in mid summer, Noodlecat will offer steamed buns filled with BBQ pork belly, miso-seasoned veggies, and Ohio beef. The classic noodle options include cold soba noodles with ponzu, soft tofu with udon, and pork belly with ramen. A modern soup with a Jewish twist features dashi-scented chicken broth with brisket, matzo balls and poached carrots.
Tons of creative sides and add-ons allow diners to customize their bowls with items like soy-braised eggs, sake-cured roe, pickled veggies, and firm tofu.
Sawyer says that vegetarians will have loads of meat-free options.
The concise cocktail list will include beer, wine and sake.
"Like" Noodlecat on Facebook here.