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Chef's Choice Noodle Bar opens at The Marketplace

Drunken noodles fans can delight in the news that Chef’s Choice Noodle Bar is back. Opening for dinner service Friday, the restaurant has already launched its Noodle Bar Express service at its new location at The Marketplace.

When news broke that the restaurant was leaving its spot on 19th Street, which it had called home for 10 years, customers wondered what the move to the southwest would mean for their dining experience.

Owner Nick Hansa said there is plenty to look forward to dining at the new space, starting with four different ways to dine.

“We believe that by offering this different dining experience, we will meet the needs of the area better,” he said. “Downtown was different, with the art gallery as a focal point, we tried to make it more artsy. Here it is more functional.”

Noodle Bar Express, which has its own entrance in the building last home to Johnny Garlic’s, will cater to more of the grab-and-go diners — students from Cal State Bakersfield, those looking to grab a quick bite on a lunch break or anyone who just doesn’t have time to sit down to eat there.

Hansa said the menu will include eight to 10 entrees to choose from that can be ordered in a bowl ($9 for one entree, one side) or a plate ($11 for two entrees, one side). Customers can also order spring rolls ($3 for two) or gyoza ($2.50 for two) as well as beverages including Thai tea ($3.50).

To accommodate this easier to-go style, some dishes like those drunken noodles didn’t make the cut (rest assured, it’s on the main menu) and items like orange chicken will be packaged with the sauce on the side unless the customer requests that it’s tossed together.

“It will be items that people like but will carry well,” Hansa said. “In case you take it home and won’t eat it for a while.”

Hansa said offering an express option will help avoid the rush at the front desk that was problematic at the downtown location where customers awaiting takeout shared the small space with those waiting for a table.

Those who aren’t rushed will have a choice of three dining options: the main dining area, similar to what was offered downtown; the indoor and patio lounge, which Hansa described as a modern bar experiences with curated cocktails and shareable dishes; and the Sapphire Room, a fine dining experience that will highlight the skills of longtime executive chef Preeda Piamfa.

“We wanted to showcase our chef who has been with us from the start. Showcase his talent instead of just sticking with this (classic) menu.”

The Sapphire Room will offer a special menu that changes seasonally. Diners will be able to enjoy a different ambiance than the other elements of the restaurant, even enjoying a quieter experience with the glass window that separates the space.

Catering mostly to adults or larger parties, the room will be a good option for special occasion meals like anniversaries, birthdays or even a special date night.

Speaking of dates, the lounge area will be great for those out on dates with exclusive menu items like ahi poke nachos and Thai basil quesadilla and a chicken Thai basil dish. Hansa said they’ve hired experienced bar staff to make sure the lounge runs smoothly.

Hours will be adjusted as work is completed with all sections other than the Sapphire Room set to open soon. Hansa said the fine dining experience will be another few weeks to complete.

To start, dinner will be served this weekend from 4 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Mother’s Day. Starting Monday, hours will be 4 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 4 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 4 to 9 p.m. Sunday.

Hansa is looking forward to opening the doors and serving customers again. Although some work continues, Noodle Bar is ready to join the neighborhood.

And customers are encouraged to share their thoughts as the restaurant gains its footing.

“We always want to let everyone know the way we have grown,” Hansa said. “If there is something we need to do better, let us know. We like compliments but constructive criticism is also helpful.”

Chef’s Choice Noodle Bar is located at 9000 Ming Ave., Suite J2. For more information, visit ccnoodlebar.com.

Stefani Dias can be reached at 661-395-7488. Follow her on Twitter at @realstefanidias.