Dear PoPville – Señor Chicken to become the People’s Noodle Bar in Columbia Heights?

“Dear PoPville,

I was picking up some Peruvian Chicken last night at Señor Chicken and the man who I believe is the owner was sitting there working on menu’s for “The People’s Noodle Bar” I believe was the name. I asked him about what has become kind of a cult hit, the noodle bar they’ve been doing on Saturday’s and he told me it looks like they might convert to doing that full time and ditch the Peruvian Chicken entirely. I asked him some questions and he said there is a much bigger demand for it and although they make enough money on chicken, it’s not nearly as much as they should be making. It looked like they were preparing the brand. The papers in front of him read “The People’s Noodle Bar: Yes You Can…Slurp.” Maybe it’s just around the corner?”

We spoke about the Secret Ramen Noodle Saturdays at Senor Chicken (14th and Park Rd, NW – on Park) back in Sept. ’11. I spoke with a worker who said for the moment noodles are still only available on Saturdays. He wasn’t aware of plans to switch full time. But this is what the utensil organizer looked like:

18 Comment

  • I for one welcome our new noodle overlords.

  • Will they be selling the sign? Because I think that dapper chicken would look awesome in my living room.

    • I always wondered why he had gotten so dressed up for his own death/consumption. Maybe no one told him what goes on at there?

      “Hey guys I’m here for the party WHOA HEY WHAT’S GOING ON HERE YOU TOLD ME THIS WAS A BABY SHOWER”

  • I really, really wanted to like the noodle soups here so much (and I’m a big fan of the pork buns they sell at the MtP farmers’ market), but man, the bowl of pork ramen I had there a few weeks ago was nearly inedible. Broth was painfully salty (and I love salt to an unhealthy degree), noodles were overdone to the point they had the texture of paste, and the pork in my pork ramen was represented by a single, very lonely slice of pork.

    Hope I just had a one-off bad bowl — others seemed to like it a lot! And I’m definitely for the owners finding more success — it’s so sad to walk by there all the time and see it empty — they deserve better!

    • I would tend to agree, the food was very salty, and I too only had one very small chunk of meat. For the cost, which I thought was pretty expensive, I don’t really think the places lives up to the hype.

  • I thought it was ok, but Toki Underground wins by a long shot in my ramen noodle book.

    Also, the service was painfully slow. I’ve actually been twice — the first time I placed an order, waited for 45 minutes, and then they told me the couldn’t serve me and gave me my money back. I went back a couple of weeks later and again it took forever, but at least they served me…

    They really need to ratchet up the service if they want to succeed as a full time business. There was a line out the door and they were constructing bowls soooo meticulously with no sense of urgency…and frankly the final product was just ok.

    It is kind of entertaining to watch People’s Bao and Toki Underground bicker on Twitter though…

  • Why not the peruvian people’s chicken noodle? There’s enough room for everything. . .

  • Who would have thought they aren’t making much dough on peruvian chicken. There are only four other spots just like it within a block.

  • There is a huge market for ramen noodles in this town. With the huge percentage of college graduates here, many are willing to shell out a large percentage of their hard-earned cash on the gourmet version of the inexpensive meals they subsisted on during their college years.

  • This is good news! I agree with others here that it is on the salty side, though. If they would just ease up on the sodium a bit, I’ll be back again and again.

  • PaschTag

    They should keep both and just change the name to “Chicken Noodle”

    • I like that!

      So, I went to People’s Ramen this weekend and had a few thoughts:

      + three types of broth means a lot of soup configurations (more than toki, which is all pork-based except for one option)
      + fun vibe, crowded, kid-friendly
      + free hot cider
      + high noodle to soup ratio (although some of my fellow diners didn’t like having so many noodles, I loved it)
      + didn’t burn my mouth hot

      – seemed like $10 was a lot for what I got (honestly, I feel the same way about the bao too)
      – trying to find a table was stressful
      – while I liked the temperature of the soup, my soupmates thought it was a little too cold
      – was definitely salty
      – ordering process was not immediately clear
      – I found myself wishing for another food option (I know, I know, the whole point is that it’s a ramen only pop-up)

      I like the idea of Chicken Noodle — I’m sure it’d bring in more business while maintaining some menu diversity.

  • I went for ramen on a Saturady. Placed an order and then waited over an hour for food. Waited so long that we asked for our money back and left. I noticed they used bagged dried ramen – what’s the point of ramen if its not hand-pulled?

  • Thanks everyone for the comments. I looked into quality issues last Saturday and have identified the causes of production defects, which all happened toward of end of shift. The broth, which is stronger and saltier on the bottom of the pot, reduces even more under low heat over 2-3 hours, resulting a much saltier taste than normal. We just added some bottle water to broth last Saturday. Cooking noodles not al dente is also related to end of shit when employees can get a little tired and lose concentration on noodles.

    We use fresh noodles imported from Japan. Japanese Ramen, unlike it Chinese cousin Lamien, is not hand-pulled. The production process is very similar to angel hair pasta. Our kitchen speed is currently 1 minute per bowl. Now that the farmer’s market season is over and thus I don’t have work triple shift on Saturday, we should be faster. As the staff gets more experience, we are already faster. Last Saturday, the noodles moved out at a smooth speed even though I was looking for causes of salty broth every 10 minutes.

  • Lastly, if you weren’t happy with your ramen, please come back and we’ll be happy to serve you a bowl free of charge.

    This week, because of Thanksgiving, we are serving all day on Black Friday, not NOT Saturday. Thanks!


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