Whether you’re fretting about where to take that cutie you’ve been crushing on in chem for a casual coffee date or looking for a romantic anniversary dinner locale, we’ve got all the details here. We hope you enjoy reading about these date destinations as much as we enjoy writing about them, and that you’ll give some of them a taste.
So, in the spirit of this selection: Kŏr hâi jà-rern aa-hăan!
Restaurant: Zoba Noodle Bar
Address: 1565 Sherman Ave., Evanston
Hours: Mon–Thurs 11 a.m. – 9:30 p.m., Fri 11 a.m. – 10 p.m., Sat 12 p.m. – 10 p.m., Sun 12 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Getting there: 10 minute walk south of the Arch
We may only be freshmen, but we are well aware of how cold it gets in Evanston during the winter. In fact, we almost froze our ears off walking to Zoba (and it’s only a few blocks away). Therefore, this quarter, we are going to throw in reviews on restaurants closer to campus. It is in this spirit that we embark on our first date of the term.
Zoba Noodle Bar is a pan-Asian restaurant specializing in homemade noodles, where you have the option of selecting the homemade noodles as opposed to the presumably factory-made alternative. The homemade option costs one dollar more, but you can taste the difference. Furthermore, you can recommend the homemade noodles and look like a connoisseur. I ordered Zo’s Panang Curry noodle, which were homemade noodles with chicken and a classic Thai panang curry. The panang was not as rich as dishes I’ve had before, but didn’t suffer for it: the curry was still quite flavorful.
Don’t expect fast or friendly service at Zoba. We were seated, had our orders taken quickly enough and our food arrived in a timely manner. However, there was little else positive to say about the service. I polished off my water, which wasn’t refilled until after I’d completely finished eating: after our food was delivered, we didn’t see the waitress again until we flagged her down for a check.
Zoba has a nice, casual vibe. The booths are quite comfortable, so if your server gives you the option I would recommend them over average-looking chairs. Whoever selects the music for the restaurant has superb taste, in my opinion. Radiohead and Guster, two of my favorite bands, both received multiple plays. There are large, French-café style doors in the street-side walls. During the warmer months these are likely opened to the street to create a pleasantly open atmosphere.
Date Factor (3.5/5)
Zoba is a solid date place. Nothing special, but good. The wait staff may be embarrassingly bad, but there's no denying that the food is impressive. If you’re looking for a tasty Asian meal close to campus, Zoba is a good bet. However, don’t expect to be saved by the proverbial bell: if you find yourself needing a distraction on your date (or just want some more water), I highly doubt the wait staff will pull through for you.
Although named for its specialty Asian noodles, Zoba's serves many non-noodle dishes. I ordered the gyoza, which is a plate of chicken pot stickers with a sesame dipping sauce. This dish, typically an appetizer, is a perfectly suitable meal for patrons with smaller appetites. For $5, the plate comes with five pot stickers. The flavors were decent but bland – nothing particularly delicious. The texture, though, was superb. Often I find pot stickers to be overly greasy or rich, but Zoba’s gyoza was neither: the perfect contrast of crispy shell and smooth filling nearly compensated for the lack of interesting flavors in the dish.
The wait staff at Zoba consists of one waitress (two on busy weekend nights). This, in itself, creates a strained service situation. Not only is Zoba shorthanded, but its waitress is not especially attentive. When John and I dined, there were two other average-sized parties at the restaurant. The waitress, however, was minimally engaged with everyone. No servers hover waiting to fill water glasses and check on your progress. This makes a great environment for carrying on a conversation uninterrupted, but it does not serve to enhance a dining experience.
This café’s vibes are homey French bistro, while its cuisine is pan-Asian. An aquarium-like wall filled with noodle art separates the ramped entrance from the dining area, while bright orange walls stimulate the appetite and unconventional artwork adorns the space. Humble seating and an unassuming atmosphere place an emphasis on the thing Zoba does best: noodles.
Date Factor (3.5/5)
Zoba is a date locale for the casual couple. Whether you are friends or already comfortably dating, this is a wonderful restaurant for catching up over a plate of chow mein. If you want to “wow” a date, though, Zoba’s is not the place for you. The food and atmosphere are cozy rather than catchy, while the service is mediocre at best. For the couple that is unconcerned with impressions, though, Zoba will dish up a satisfying and convenient meal.
Zoba Noodle Bar is a restaurant with food as delicious as the atmosphere is quaint and the homemade noodles are more than worth their $1 substitution fee. Zoba has a BYOB policy, so bring your own sake for a pan-Asian experience. If it's too cold to leave the dorm this winter but you still want noodles, check out Zoba’s delivery policy here. For a fresh take on the Evanston noodle scene, give Zoba Noodle Bar a try.
If you’ve had an experience at Zoba Noodle Bar or if you have any questions/suggestions for future date spots, leave us a comment below.