Boston Restaurant Blog -- September, 2012
Thursday, September 27, 2012
I tend to gravitate toward Vietnamese cuisine as the temperatures get colder (soups and spicy foods are big on my list during the fall and winter months), so on a recent evening that was rather chilly, we made our way over to Zenna Noodle Bar in Brookline, with this being my first time at this Vietnamese-Thai fusion spot on the western edge of Coolidge Corner. And our experience was a solid one (though it didn't quite reach the greatness of my favorite Vietnamese and Thai places in and around Boston), with impressive food, a nice atmosphere, good service, and reasonable prices.
Zenna Noodle Bar is pretty easy to overlook, being on a stretch of Beacon Street that doesn't get as much foot traffic as the heart of Coolidge Corner. (It doesn't seem to get much press, either, though the reviews I have read have mostly been good ones.) But it is a very pleasant spot, with a serene, tranquil, and quiet interior that is a nice oasis from the constant noise coming from the trolleys and cars just outside the door. The track lights and shiny hardwood floor add a modern and almost trendy feel to the dining room, though the earthy colors throughout help give a peacefulness to the place at the same time. Two columns of seating can be found in the smallish space, with the tables on the left side of the room having a bench seat that extends from front to back.
Among the items that we tried at Zenna Noodle Bar was a wonderful chicken satay dish that featured tender strips of chicken (complete with grill marks) on sticks and a sweet-tasting peanut sauce on the side. The chicken had a richness that indicated the use of a number of herbs and spices in their marinade, and the strips were moist and juicy. Our main dishes included a classic Thai item--drunken noodles--that had piece of chickens, wide rice noodles, and plenty of fresh veggies and herbs, and the sauce, while not hot right off the bat, seemed to get hotter with each bite, though not enough to overpower the dish. Another main dish--noodle soup with beef--was basically Vietnamese pho that included organic ingredients and was quite tasty, though the flavor combinations didn't quite match those that I've had at such places as Pho So 1 or Pho 2000 in Dorchester. Drinks included a Vietnamese coffee that was extremely potent (but a marvelous drink nonetheless) and a sweet-tasting and creamy Thai iced tea. Our server was friendly and professional, and the prices were certainly reasonable, with many items on the menu being at or just under $10 (including the dishes that we ordered).
While maybe not quite in the upper echelons of memorable Asian fusion restaurants in the Boston area, it is nice to see that this spot in Brookline does put out some very good dishes on both the Vietnamese side and the Thai side. I'm looking forward to heading back there sometime later this fall, hopefully trying their chicken mango curry or their vegetarian pad Thai.
If you would like the address for Zenna Noodle Bar, here it is: Zenna Noodle Bar, 1374 Beacon Street, Brookline, MA, 02446. Phone: (617) 566-0566
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