Jonathon Sawyer is one of the names keeping Cleveland on the culinary radar. His restaurants receive accolades from publications like Bon Appetit and Food & Wine magazine, and the chef has made appearances on Iron Chef on The Food Network. Noodlecat is the fusion ramen project from Team Sawyer. Since the restaurant is looking into opening a location in central Ohio, I decided to check out the West Side Market location and get a sneak preview while in Cleveland.
While ramen shops often offer little in the way of choices for meatless diners, Noodlecat has plenty of options for vegetarians and vegans. The menu is coded to mark vegetarian dishes. There are vegetarian ramen bowls, salads and meatless bao sandwiches. Vegan items had to be requested at the counter, but could be accommodated. The menu is a Yankee take on traditional Japanese noodle houses with a focus on local ingredients.
The smoked tomato coconut curry udon possessed notes that were both Japanese and Thai. The kombu broth suspended udon noodles, poached tofu, bamboo, scallions, potatoes and roasted sesame seeds. The understated base was mildly spicy, and the richness was a perfect vehicle for the wheat noodles and the crunchy veggies.
The veggie bao was stuffed with sprouts, mushrooms, cucumber, carrots, radishes and red onions. The soft roll had a nice coating of a sweet hoisin-like sauce.
The sit-down restaurant has an expanded menu with more choices than the West Side Market stall. Both locations are worth checking out. I plan on frequenting the Columbus Noodlecat if and when it opens.