In the zone

What it is about mall food courts? I find them so repulsive and so irresistible at the same time. Actually, it’s just the Westlake Center food court, since I haven’t been to another mall food court in years. Westlake is in downtown Seattle, but it has all the usual things you’d expect at the mall: the steak sandwich place, the steam-table Indian and Thai places, Sbarro, Hot Dog on a Stick, McDonald’s and so on. The McDonald’s always has the longest line. I did see a sign for a banh mi stand coming soon, so I guess some things do change.

Oh, the steak sandwich place reminds me that when I was going to high school in downtown Portland, my friend Brian and I used to have lunch sometimes at the food court at Pioneer Place, Portland’s version of Westlake Center. One day we went to the steak sandwich place (which I think was called The Steak Escape) and they were having a contest to name their new chicken sandwich. Brian submitted an entry: “The 12-inch Pecker.” They ended up calling it “The Grandest Chicken.” There is no justice.

I end up at Westlake more often than I’d like to admit, even though there’s a good falafel place across the street. Partly it’s because they have a Dairy Queen. I was a little nervous when the DQ opened, but I haven’t gone as often as I’d feared. That’s because I’m usually full by the time I finish my plate of noodles from Noodle Zone.

Unlike most of the other places in the food court, Noodle Zone cooks everything to order. Mostly they serve Thai noodle stir-fries and soups, but the place used to be a location of local chain Pasta Ya Gotcha, and the menu still retains an imprint of that unfortunately named restaurant’s menu, in the form of dishes like Penne Taco Sauce. Some of the cooks at Noodle Zone are Thai and some Mexican, and last time I was there I heard a manager calling out things like, “I need a pad see ew para llevar.”

I always get the same thing at Noodle Zone, the daily special. There are only two daily specials, as far as I know (only one is available on any given day). One is stir-fried wide rice noodles with chicken, vegetables, and chile paste. The other is stir-fried wide rice noodles with chicken, vegetables, pineapple, green curry paste, and coconut milk. They’re both good, spicier than you’d expect from the mall, and $6 including tax. I also get a little condiment cup of *prik nam pla*, sliced Thai chiles in fish sauce.

Then I grab a seat by the window, overlooking Westlake Park, and try to pretend I’m not hanging at the mall.

**Noodle Zone**
Westlake Center
(206) 652-9731

One thought on “In the zone

  1. L

    My husband does the same… Noodle Zone, Daily Special. Quite tasty. I always have to go to the Orange Julius for an original. I was programmed as a young child, and can’t help myself. :-)

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