When walking past Noodle Street on the sidewalk of Commonwealth Avenue, Boston University students may catch a whiff of fried rice and ramen through the crack of an opening door. Nestled in the brownstones on Central Campus at 627 Commonwealth Ave., Noodle Street offers an extensive Thai menu, along with Japanese, Korean and Cambodian dishes.
Since opening more than 14 years ago, BU students and faculty alike have frequented the establishment.
Nimue Zorman, a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences, said the restaurant feels like a home away from home.
“There is definitely a sense of community at Noodle Street,” Zorman said. “Even when it’s packed, the staff make you feel at home and welcome. I’d say it’s one of my friend’s and mine go-to spots because it’s always fast and delicious.”
The staff of Noodle Street form a tight-knit community themselves. According to Chris Chan, partial owner of Noodle Street, most of the staff have been at the restaurant for over 10 years. The restaurant closes on Sundays so that the staff may go home and have the whole day with their families, Chan said, even though it loses the restaurant money.
“We are very grateful to the BU community for supporting us,” he said. “We have some customers who come as often as four times a week, and they always order the same thing. Our manager, she remembers what they have. It’s very easy-going.”
Noodle Street provides a bright and cheerful spot for students to convene and study, fueled by Thai iced tea, crab rangoon and tom yum pad thai, a dish Noodle Street invented.
Alaina Mencinger, a freshman in the College of Communication, said whenever she eats at Noodle Street she sees a lot of students from BU and other Boston-area schools.
“The food is amazing, and the staff is so friendly,” Mencinger said. “It feels like a home-cooked meal.”
Noodle Street engages with the local community beyond BU, as well. For the past 12 years the restaurant has provided lunch for a group of Buddhist monks every Wednesday.
“Monks are not allowed to work for money, so as a Buddhist, we offer them to come and have lunch free of charge,” Chan said. “… This is what Buddhists call merit, or good energy. You receive it when you give something back, like good karma, and it feels great.”
For some students and faculty, the loyalty to Noodle Street lasts beyond the years spent at BU. Chan said both professors who have retired and students who have graduated come back, sometimes with their own kids.
“That’s an amazing feeling,” Chan said.
Greg Gray, who earned a master’s degree in 2015 and doctorate in 2018 from the School of Theology, said he was a frequent patron of Noodle Street while at BU.
“There was rarely a week that my friends and I didn’t stop in,” Gray said. “I live 70 miles outside of Boston now, but when I come back I am there.”