Nudo House Brings Its Exceptional Ramen to a Second Location
Great ramen was hard to come by inside the city boundaries of St. Louis until Nudo House opened a second location in The Delmar Loop in September. Co-owner Qui Tran feels nostalgic about the expansion because the Tran family founded its first restaurant, Mai Lee, 35 years ago on Delmar Boulevard.
Mai Lee has been an institution in the St. Louis dining scene ever since it opened, serving honest Vietnamese food, one of the first restaurants of its kind in the city. Founder Lee Tran came to the United States by boat with her son (Qui) and husband after escaping Vietnam in 1978. She worked as a waitress at a variety of Chinese restaurants in town before deciding to continue her career as a restaurateur in St. Louis and open Mai Lee with a full Chinese menu. She slowly began introducing Vietnamese dishes to the mix and continued to do so with the support of her guests. In 2009, Qui Tran helped move the restaurant to Brentwood, and in 2017 he began a venture of his own with Nudo House.
Qui Tran spent years traveling around the country and learning from other chefs with business partner Marie-Anne Velasco. They trained with Shigetoshi Nakamura, a lauded ramen master in Japan (one of four in the nation), and tested their concept through various pop-up dinners in St. Louis in the years leading up to the restaurant’s opening. The original Nudo House in Creve Coeur was met with much adoration—it landed on the cover of “Food & Wine” magazine not long after.
The rich broths, which are so essential to good ramen, take up to 24 hours to prepare from the vegetables, pork and chicken bones because the flavors intensify with time. Along with the six flavors of ramen, the menu offers four varieties of pho, a classic Vietnamese soup, a number of banh mi sandwiches and enticing appetizers like tamarind fried chicken and cold sesame noodle salad among perfectly executed standards like spring rolls and crab Rangoon. Concert-goers in The Loop will be happy to find a variety of local and imported beers available, as well as interesting house-made boozy slushies.
11423 Olive Blvd.
6105 Delmar Blvd.
Images courtesy of Brad Fink.