There's a sucker born every minute at Foo Noodle Bar | Bleader

Thursday, April 11, 2013

There's a sucker born every minute at Foo Noodle Bar

Posted By on 04.11.13 at 12:35 PM

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duck soup, Foo Noodle Bar
The mighty Horseshoe Hammond goes to great lengths to pull in Asian gamblers, running free, (almost) hourly shuttles between Chinatown and the northwest Indiana casino in addition to less frequent stops at Broadway and Argyle, among others. Its La Cheng Asian Gaming Area, packed with baccarat tables, is designed on lucky feng shui principles, and conceals a hidden noodle bar which recently received a ringing endorsement from L2O chef and high roller Matthew Kirkley, who declared that "the best noodle shop in the Chicagoland area is not in Chicago, nor Illinois. It's behind the Baccarat pit of the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Indiana."

That's hard to ignore, isn't it?

And yet, Friend of the Food Chain Titus was more measured in his praise, and another trusted source told me the place was flat-out bunk. But surely the ballers attached to the baccarat tables would demand a quality bowl of noodles above and beyond what we're used to in the city, right?

Well . . .

First off, as a refuge from the listless hordes staring slackjawed at the Tiger Treasures and Lord of the Rings slot machines on a Friday night, Foo Noodle Bar seems enticing. At 11:45 PM the main floor is teeming with dead-eyed slot jockeys, but the buffet is closed, and "the legendary" Jack Binion's Steak House is barren, besides being altogether too pricey for luckless pigeons in need of fuel to make it all the way to the final 5:15 AM shuttle.

wonton noodles, Foo Noodle Bar

Once you find your way back there, the Foo Noodle Bar looks and smells pretty good too, relative to the stale-smoke stank of the casino—like five-spice powder and sugar, with wet clouds rising from dim sum steamers and a white-clad chef carefully constructing big bowls of beef noodle, roasted duck, or wonton noodle soup. Actually, I only saw him put together three bowls of those soups—the very ones I ordered. That's because everybody else inside was eating rice, whether stir-fried or with roasted duck, or pork chops, or Thai chicken wings, or dim sum. Anything but the soup. And noodles are supposed to be lucky.

That should have told me something. Each bowl was filled with a uniformly thin, murky broth clotted with an impenetrable mass of floury noodles, some clumped together as if never completely cut. There was bland, boiled-over beef in one, glutinous shrimp shumai and limp cabbage in another, and about the only good thing you could point to in any of them was the very generous serving of lacquered, crispy roasted duck in the third. You can also get pho, or fish-ball soup, or spicy beef tendon (which in retrospect seems like a smarter bet, though at $11.95 a bowl not a sure one).

On the other hand, if you're throwing enough money at the tables, you'll be gifted a voucher for them. But if you've just shuttled to Indiana solely for noodles, you're the biggest sucker in the joint.

Foo Noodle Bar, Hammond Horseshoe, 777 Casino Center Dr., Hammond, Indiana, 866-711-7463

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