These days, fast-casual Asian concepts are all the rage. In fact, in University Circle alone there’s Ninja City, Chopstick and soon Kenko. Well, you can add Tea House Noodles to that list. The Cleveland-based eatery will open a second shop at Uptown (11472 Euclid Ave.) on April 27.
When it opened downtown in 1997, Tea House Noodles was a pioneer, offering fast but healthy Asian-themed fare for the lunch crowd.
“We’re on our 20-year anniversary,” says current owner Bob Lynch. “Back then we were ahead of our time – and we haven’t changed our formula.”
That time-tested formula – a familiar procedure now at countless new concepts – allows diners to customize their meal by picking a base, a protein and a sauce. At Tea House, the base choices are brown rice, veggies or rice noodles. The proteins include chicken, tofu or shrimp. And the eight sauces range from the sweet-hot Rica-Rica to the creamy coconut curry. Tea House’s all-important last step is to “feel good.”
From the start, Tea House Noodles was designed to give diners a quick, tasty and healthy option come lunchtime, says Lynch. Vegetables are steamed not sautéed in oil, all sauces are vegan save for the chicken broth, brown rice nudges out white rice, and guests can add a fresh fruit or veggie juice.
“If you’re eating lunch every day, you can’t be cramming heavy-duty stuff all the time,” Lynch says. “Hey, I like a hamburger just like everybody else, but we can’t eat like that every day.”
The new spot, located near Zack Bruell’s forthcoming Dynomite Burgers, will seat 25 to 30 guests. Tea House also does a ton of take-out and delivery.
This location will mark the first time Lynch has branched out from downtown since his brief foray into Little Italy, which closed a few years back.
“Murray Hill just wasn’t the right spot,” says Lynch. “It wasn’t what I anticipated.”
Downtown, meanwhile, is doing great (save for the partial building collapse across the street, which shuttered Tea House for the week). Lynch recently extended his hours of operation to 8 p.m. to accommodate all the new downtown residents. It is a formula he intends to mimic in University Circle.