Sunday, July 18, 2010

Bubble Maineia Review

Another guest post from Roomie A, only this time *not* because I was too lazy to write my own review (see Pom's write-up). A. just sent me an email - with an attached photo and everything! - detailing her lunch experience at the newly relocated Bubble Maineia Dessert & Noodle Bar. Since it lent itself so easily to blogging, I asked her if I could post it here. So take it away, Roomie A!

I am not normally in the habit of spreading bad news about local businesses. In fact, quite the contrary! I'm thrilled to support any local establishment, even if the cost is higher, as long as the quality is good. But I do feel a certain civic duty to save my friends (most of whom are broke) from wasting good money on bad food. It is for only this reason that I share my recent tale of luncheon woe:

In the hope of finding a good noodle shop in this town, I tried Bubble Maineia Dessert & Noodle Bar (15 Temple Street, Portland). Sadly, my lunch was a Lo Mein Letdown, a Porky Pity, and a Bok Choy Bummer- all at the same time.

I spent last weekend in Brooklyn, where I truly spoiled myself eating excellent Asian food (excepting Thai and Sushi, which are quite satisfactory here in Portland). But even comparing my noodles to others in Portland, this was not a compelling lunch.

I ordered the "Minced Pork Sauce with Noodle" on the Lo Mein list for $5.95. It came with a "free side" of either spicy chicken salad or sweet and sour cucumber. I opted for the spicy chicken salad, which was actually very good and had some interesting ingredients (that awesome transparent seaweed!). But to call it a "side" is WILDLY generous. It was, at the most, two tablespoons. Just slightly more than I would have expected from a sample at whole foods. However, one can order it on its own for $4, which would be worth it as long as the portion is larger.

I also had a hankering for iced tea, and they have both green and black. I chose green. It tasted like soap. A co-worker chose black, which tasted pleasantly of tea.

I took my noodle takeout (plus a little container of chili sauce) back to my office and cracked it open. I felt like a contestant on Let's Make a Deal and Monty Hall just opened the last door to reveal a goat. I had such high hopes! Which, no doubt, worsened the disappointment.

The takeout container (which is very nice and will be useful for storing leftovers) contained a pile of perfectly cooked Lo Mein noodles and . . . some gunk with bok choy. The title was misleading, perhaps a result of a language barrier, but it's still problematic. My noodles were billed as coming with a "minced pork sauce." What I got was a quarter of a cup of very greasy, dry, tough, ground pork, with NO sauce-like qualities. Under-seasoned and over-cooked. And visually unappealing (looking like the result of the "dog's dinner" that Gordon Ramsay is frequently served). It was garnished with a half a head of under-done baby bok choy, which I normally love, but it wasn't enough to resurrect the mess.

All that said, I have frequently had bubble tea from Bubble Maineia's commercial street location, and enjoyed it quite thoroughly, so I will probably go in from time to time for my tapioca fix. And the chicken salad would be excellent if taken home and eaten with some salted, crispy seaweed and sticky rice as a delicious deconstructed sushi. But the noodle bar element of this location is NOT worth six bucks. Sorry.


  1. I work nearby and have eaten here twice - two disappointing meals. The first time I had the "wonton with spicy sesame sauce" listed under "lo mein noodles". The server was quick to point out that no noodles came with the order. The wontons themselves were good, but were drowingin in a gooey/thick/sweet sauce that tasted like it was from a jar. The side of pickled cucumbers was excellent.

    My second meal was mixed veggies with cellophane noodles - marginally better, with shreds of veggies on gummy cold noodles. The side of chicken salad was excellent; the "free grand opening special" green tea tasted like dirt.

    I haven't worked up the nerve to try the noodle soups.....not sure i want to waste more money. Very sad.

  2. i'm bummed out too! my cold sesame noodles were slimy and inedible. the sauce was bland, and needed some serious spice. and i love bubble maine-ia! the chocolate milk bubble tea adn veggie bun were tasty as always, but i was really hoping for something more. somebody needs to send them a new chef and SOON.

  3. That's very sad to hear. I have had 5 different dishes at the restaurant and loved them all, and coincidentally none of them are any of the ones that you had (except for broke207's cold sesame noodles). I've heard the same complaint about the minced pork sauce noodles, and I've never been a fan of it as a kid. I did talk to the owner who makes all the food with her sister and she says that some of the dishes that call for spice are "toned down" for American tastes. So for anyone who loves spicy stuff should ask for extra chili oil on the side.

    For anyone else who's been disappointed, but hasn't already decided against a second try, I would try the curry chicken on rice and the beef stew noodle soup. Those are some of the more authentic Taiwanese foods there. Otherwise, maybe your tastes just don't suit the cuisine.