After discovering during my last trip back home that the QQ Noodles in Fremont had closed down, I was completely devastated. Yes, there were other locations, but the Fremont location was the closest. As I was reiterating my sorrows, once again, to my family, my grandmother cut in to mention a restaurant that she had heard about through the grapevine. Her friends had told her positive things about the hand-pulled noodles at “a restaurant in downtown Alameda.” Excited at the possibility of a hand-pulled noodle restaurant even closer to home than QQ Noodles, I dragged my parents to try The Ark Restaurant with me.
We started off with the xiao long bao ($6.99). My parents like to try the soup dumplings whenever it’s on any restaurant’s menu. I find it amusing; to date, they’ve tried dumplings from the famous Din Tai Fung in Taiwan to the random street vendor in San Francisco. The xiao long bao at Ark was disappointing. The skin was too thick, making the dumplings dry on the outside. The dumplings did have plenty of soup, but the wrapping overshadowed the filling.
My dad, always the meat-lover, ordered the beef noodle soup in medium-size ($6.99). While there was plenty of beef, the soup itself was not very flavorful. The noodles didn’t have that nice, slightly springy texture, but at least they didn’t become soggy after soaking in the broth for a while. We noticed that there was a place in the back to watch the chef make the noodles, but while we were at the restaurant, a man only came out for a minute to pat a ball of dough and chat with the servers before retreating.
To get a sense of the versatility of the noodles, we also ordered the chicken chow mein ($7.50). The noodles used in this dish were thinner than the ones in the soup. This dish, though, was extremely poorly executed. The large chunks of onion were so raw that they completely overpowered the dish. There also wasn’t much variety. Other than the chicken and overload of onions, there was only a handful of bean sprouts and two random strings of carrots in the dish. I had to painstakingly pick out all the onions, but the onion-taste still lingered on the limp noodles.
We also ordered the green onion pancake ($6.50). This was actually the best part of the meal. Thick, chewy, yet crispy, the flaky pancake layers successfully made me forget about the awful taste of the chow mein. I couldn’t figure out why, though, the pancake cost almost as much as the beef noodle soup.
At the end, we were given an adorable fruit plate. The fruit bunnies, while cute, didn’t improve my thoughts on the rest of the meal and couldn’t remove the lingering onion taste in my mouth.
The Ark Restaurant, sadly, was not the answer to my hand-pulled noodle doldrums. If anything, it made me miss QQ Noodles more. The green onion pancake was delicious, but the restaurant’s main selling point, its noodles, was not stellar. Publicity in the Chinese community and prime location has made Ark Restaurant popular, but I question its longevity with such sub-par food. Sorry, Grandma, but I think your posse was wrong about this one.
The Ark Restaurant and Catering
1405 Park Street
Alameda, CA 94501