Spiral Noodle is an Asian-Fusion restaurant that specializes in build-it-yourself noodle-and-rice bowls.
One of Richmond, VA’s newest establishments (opened in June 2015), manager Nelson Benavides explains that the goal is to offer a selection of broths — vegetarian, beef, chicken — and let diners go to town picking their favorite toppings. Or skip the soup and enjoy the noodles sans broth.
Next, prepare to get creative:
Step 1: Pick your base — white or brown rice, ramen, Vietnamese or Chinese rice noodles, or udon.
Step 2: Pick your protein — grilled chicken, steak, or shrimp, boneless pork chop, or fried tofu.
Step 3: Pick up toppings — options include bok choy, cabbage, bamboo shoots, cauliflower, sweet corn, bean sprouts, crab stick, boiled egg, green pepper, asparagus, and more.
Step 4: Pick your broth — Chinese chicken soup, Japanese soup, Vietnamese beef, or veggie soy.
“Our broth is a light base,” manager Hon Yu told Richmond magazine in June. “You can customize it with our sauces, but we wanted the soup to be light so that it doesn’t overwhelm your palate once you’ve added what you like. A lot of broths, especially ramen broths, can be very strong. Another highlight is that you can come into Spiral Noodle in the mood for soup with mushrooms. Or broccoli. And that’s what you’ll get in your bowl. Many pho and ramen shops don’t offer this kind of customization.”
Spiral Noodle also features a fun sauce bar complete with a dozen options to top your dish, ranging from oyster sauce to spicy mayo.
Indeed, healthy food choices rule here.
Benavides says his personal favorite is the Hawaiian Bowl. “The colors of the vegetables and fried pork pop off the plate and the texture of everything together mixes very well.”
In addition to the soup and noodle selections, appetizers include edamame, shrimp shumai, and fresh summer rolls. If you have a taste for fried bacon and cheese crab rangoon, or “trio fries” (a ménage á trois of waffle, curly, and shoestring), there’s something for you, too.
New in September is the shop’s ABC license, so customers can wash down the dishes with beer, ice cold sake, and wine.
The Reviews Are In
With only a handful of months under their belts, Benavides and his fellow managers are listening closely to what their customers want.
“The best review we’ve gotten so far is from Lauren B. on Yelp. She praised us on our upbeat interior, the menu’s ability to have endless combinations, and the freshness of our ingredients,” Benavides shares. “Her review was definitely a confidence booster. We always try to keep the freshness of our ingredients in mind so when a customer acknowledges that, it makes us feel good about what we’re doing.”
Of course, not everyone is going to be a fan. “There was a man with his two daughters who came in on a particularly busy night, and no one waited on him so he left. Of course, we did not find out about this until he posted his experience on Yelp. We quickly reached out to him and offered a discount on his next visit. And we talked with our servers. We’re still all learning.”
Benavides says the team does its best to listen to customers. “We’ve actually made a few changes to the store because of feedback from our customers. For example, customers told us they were confused by the menu so we changed the design and added more content. Those were welcome suggestions.”
The bottom line: For $9 for a giant bowl of soup, Spiral Noodle is sure to draw in families as well as students from the local universities.
3131 West Cary St., Richmond, VA
Open Monday to Thursday: 11am-3pm 5pm-10pm
Friday and Saturday: 11am-11pm