United Noodles

Twin Cities, Minnesota


Image for mjwill320

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I went to check out their deli after a friend told me about this place.
They have some good vegetarian options. Not as clearly marked for Vegan.
This place seemed consistently busy when i was there but the service and delivery of food was fast.
I had the Vegan Shoyu bowl. It was tasty and well portioned but it had a little too much salt for my taste. Overall a good visit for someone who craves authentic noodles.

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I made my first trip to United Noodle this morning after years of hearing it described as the best place for Asian groceries. I arrived at 8 am to find that they don't open until 9 am. Thankfully, they saw me arrive and welcomed me just the same. I was limited by how much I could carry for the many miles home but I stocked up on tofu (99 cents!) spring roll wrappers (less than $2 for a good amount!) and rice noodles (99 cents!). I was thrilled with the prices and wished I could have bought so much more.

I was also impressed by the selection; most conventional grocery stores offer one or two tofu options, noodle options, etc. At United Noodles there was much more to choose from at better prices. I didn't get to check out their deli items or produce but just based on the prices/selection I saw I will be a regular customer from now on.

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United Noodles is definitely one of the best Asian groceries in the Twin Cities. however, even though it is fairly large, they still seem to abide by the unwritten law governing Asian groceries (and co-ops, for that matter), which states that there is always at least one of your favorite items that they don't have, and that at least one other Asian grocery does have. for example, Shuang Hur on Nicollet has some fake meats that United Noodles doesn't carry. and vice versa. so if you enjoy and have time for an afternoon of leapfrogging around to 3 different places, this isn't really a big deal; but at times it'd be nice to have a complete, one-stop shop.

one of the things i especially like about United Noodles is that their selection of dishes and bowls is unique, elegant, cute, and seems to be of a higher quality than other stores. and, of course, like everything else, the dishes are very inexpensive.

another nice touch is that they provide green tea to drink as you shop! it's probably best to peruse those ceramic dishes before you get all caffeinated, though.

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I love this place, but I used to love it more before they added a deli and they started hanging dead animals in plain view. I am sensitive to sights such as these and would like to know ahead of time what I was about to be confronted with. The deli is in plain view when you walk through the front doors, so it's pretty much unavoidable.

I have started stock piling noodles in my closets and above my cupboards. I can't stop buying them. They are so cheap, and good. They have a huge selection of noodle soups there, they're super cheap. If you don't mind reading a ton of ingredient lists and eating a whole lot of MSG, this is the soup mecca. I buy everything I can find that's vegan, simply because it is so cheap and it's fun to experiment. Hell, if you don't like it, it only cost 30 cents anyway! They also sell great sauces, and have a large vegetarian frozen section, as well as a fair selection of canned mock duck and fried glutens. They have the best oranges in town, too. It does close fairly early though, and is really crowded on weekends, so I recommend going during the day on a weekday.

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Let's get the negatives out of the way first. Until they did their big renovation a year or two ago, United Noodles use to be my favorite asian market. Now everything is organized in smaller 'islands,' generally according to ethnicity. While they use to have a large area of asian kitchen utensils and gadgets in the back of the store, now have only a very small--generally more expensive-- selection in the front of the store. Their produce is often marked in a way that makes it easy to confuse the price of the package with the price per pound...often more than you'd pay at another asian store for the same item. Also, unlike most asian markets, most of their produce is pre-packaged so you can't choose to buy a smaller amount. Because many of the employees at the registers are not asian, you often have to look for someone if you need advice about using/cooking a product.

Now the things they do well. They have some of the freshest, best quality asian herbs. They, also, have a wide variety of noodles, fresh and dry. a couple of years ago they had free sushi lessons (as you know there are sundry vegan sushi recipes...if i recall right, sushi means rice, not raw seafood). they have lovely--but rather expensive--gift items; tea sets, chop stick rests, etc. and finally, they do have products from most asian countries...at least they usually have what i need. The employees will go out of their way to find out when a certain tea or some other product will be back in stock.
It's a pleasant, uncrowded atmosphere. there is plently of free parking.

Image for Dave Rolsky

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I've been to most of the Asian groceries in the Twin Cities area, and United Noodles is definitely the best. They have a huge selection of vegan food, and the quality is pretty consistent. The fresh vegetables can sometimes stay out a little long, however. I've never gotten anything there that was not actually usable, but sometimes I've had to throw out a small but signficant portion of a bag of vegetables.

It's hard to blame them for this, since a lot of these products are probably not available locally, and they almost certainly don't sell a high enough volume to justify fresh shipments daily.

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