The Hippo


May 25, 2020








 Noodle Bar

Where: 36 Lowell St., Manchester (former space of Gale Motor Co. Eatery)
Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 5 to 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday until 10 p.m.

Ramen around
Noodle Bar comes to Manchester


 Dave Spagnuolo, founder of the Gale Motor Co. Eatery restaurants in Manchester and Concord, has had a lifelong love for Asian dishes like ramen and bao — he even trained under an Asian-influenced chef. Now, he and co-owner Stacey Murphy have opened Noodle Bar in the space of the original Gale Motor Co. Eatery in Manchester, which closed in February. 

The concept is a departure for them; while Spagnuolo and Murphy still run Gale Motor Co. Whiskey & Wine on North Main Street in Concord with a menu heavy on tapas, bourbons and whiskeys, the focus at the Noodle Bar in Manchester is on, well, noodles.
“Ramen is huge right now. We’ve done some ramen dishes at both locations, and I’ve always wanted to do a noodle bar, so we figured that we would change things up,” said Spagnuolo.
He noted that several restaurants in Manchester now offer tapas, so transforming that location of the Gale Motor Co. Eatery into Noodle Bar is allowing them to offer something more unique to the area. The menu features ramen, bao and sake rice wine as its specialties. 
Spagnuolo said he is getting some of his product, like oils and noodles, shipped up from New York City because some are unavailable locally.
“When I started to do ramen here, I read about the broths … and what the specific ways of making them are,” he said. “Broths are one of the most important parts, because it all comes out in the flavor, and you have to spend the time to do it right.”
If you’ve ordered a ramen dish at either Gale Motor Co. restaurant in the past, you might recognize a few of them as having made it onto the menu at Noodle Bar, like the miso ramen, which is made with spicy pulled pork, cabbage, snow peas, miso egg, cilantro, scallions and chili oil. Other options available on the ramen menu include tantanmen (with a pork broth and spicy sesame tare, as well as ajitama, minced chicken, bok choy, citrus, cilantro and chili oil) and tonkotsu shoyu (made with sliced pork belly, mushrooms, ajitama, garlic chips, black garlic oil and cilantro).
A menu of tacos using bao buns has also been expanded. There is the pork belly with hoisin, pickled red onions, kimchi aioli and cilantro; the fried chicken with collard greens, smoked bacon, fried jalapenos, Cajun aioli and Sriracha; the brisket with ginger barbecue sauce and pickled pineapple; and the mushroom bao taco with truffle aioli and pickled vegetables.
“Bao buns are … double leavened, so it has baking powder and yeast in it, and then duck fat for flavor,” Spagnuolo said. “When they come out right, they are amazing. Instead of baking them, the steam adds some moisture to it, so they’re like nice puffy pillows.”
The restaurant features a line of sake, a Japanese rice wine. Some mixed drinks made with sake are available as well. Noodle Bar’s menu also features a few edamame salads, dumplings like chicken curry, pork belly and duck confit, and several kinds of fried rice dishes.
According to Spagnuolo, many of the options are made with his own twist on things.
“A lot of the Japanese [broth flavorings] are fish-based and have bonito flakes and dried fish and sardines, and I’m not a fan of that, so I’m not going to have that,” he said. “I’m going to sort of Americanize it a little bit by not putting that in.”
He added that while some of the ramen dishes may still appear on the menu at Whiskey & Wine in Concord to maintain consistency, its Manchester counterpart has more of an Asian palate.
“You’ll get a bowl of ramen, and it will fill you up,” he said. “Eventually, I might put in some more entree-type things, but it’s definitely focused on noodles.” 

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