Sometimes you have to dive in — but the best experiences are often made when you take time to savor them. That’s why we’re sinking slowly into Dagu Rice Noodle, which opened in AsiaTown’s former Koko Cafe in July. The Shanghai-based franchise is one of only a few here in the U.S., becoming the fourth restaurant in owner Sheng Long You's repertoire, which includes Strongsville Shinto Japanese Steakhouse and two outposts of Kenko Sushi & Teriyaki in University Circle and Kent. With Chinese street food-style appetizers such as warm, spicy quail eggs ($4.99) and salty crispy chicken ($4.99), there's a lot of familiar territory to dig into. But the real reason we come here is for the array of crossing-the-bridge noodle soups. Delivered in heated earthenware bowls, the broth of each soup is a boiling 300 degrees. Served alongside an enormous bowl of soft, tangled noodles and a platter of uncooked ingredients such as bamboo shoots, tofu, Spam and corn nuts, the entrees are like a choose-your-own adventure, yielding new flavor profiles with each addition. If you’re looking for an easy way in, there’s a number of soups that come pre-assembled, such as the sour and spicy flavored rice noodle soup with XiangXi pulled beef ($12.99). It’s got everything we love from the original soup but with a creamy, tangy broth that’s earthy and delicious. And if you run out of noodles, don’t rush off — a second, free helping is on the way.
When You Go: Dagu Rice Noodle, 3710 Payne Ave., Suite 104, Cleveland, 216-862-8090, dagu-usa.com