The concept of a choose-your-own adventure type of meal isn't particularly new, but it is something hard to do well. Chipotle is one of my favourite quick-meals, and the idea of transforming this idea into a noodle bar intrigued me. I was worried however - there can be issues with the freshness of the noodles, the speed of service, the limited options on offer but thankfully Toss suffers from none of these ailments.
Classed as an Asian-fusion restaurant, the menu focuses on simple combinations of noodles/rice, sauce/soup/curry and protein to suit every customer. The noodle choices are Hokkien, wheat, rice (flat or thin), spinach and grass (which I wasn't game enough to try). White and brown steamed and brown rice are also on offer. Flavour choices include Thai, Malay, Chinese and Japanese sauces, Tomyum, clear and laksa soups and green and red curries. Protein choices include tofu, chicken, prawn, pork, beef or combination.
Is that enough options for you?
|Spinach Noodles with Malay Sauce and Pork|
|White Rice with Green Curry and King Prawn|
The service here is super-fast with many dishes arriving within 5 minutes of ordering. The serving sizes are generous and the flavours pack a punch. I'd prefer more protein in my meals, but I guess that's what add-on dishes are for.
For those on the lookout for more protein, there are chicken satay and BBQ pork skewers and San Choi Bao available.
|BBQ pork skewer|
The BBQ pork skewer was absolutely delicious. With a sensible amount of fat and a restrained addition of sweet marinade, it was really a very good dish. And at $2 each, a few won't break the bank. I've made a mental note to come back and try the chicken satay skewer next time I'm in.
|San Choi Bao|
The San Choi Bao (minced chicken with egg in lettuce cups) were less impressive. I took an immediate disliking to the fried rice noodle things that were sprinkled on-top of the baos. I'm of the opinion they don't belong on any dish. Nevertheless, the baos themselves were decent if slightly dry, with enough chicken contained within the crunchy lettuce cups to keep me happy.
Other items on the menu include various small appetizers including kimchi rolls and vegetable dumplings just to keep things interesting.
Overall, Toss Noodle Bar is cheap and satisfying. With large portions, quick service and the novelty of building a dish exactly to your liking, it's hard to go wrong. I guess now all that needs to opened is a choose-your-own grill bar and my life will be complete.
Toss Noodle Bar
2272 Shattuck Ave, BerkeleyMon-Sun 11am-10pm