Unexpected Asian

For a space that once hosted a Taco Shop, Brother’s Noodles is a pleasant surprise

heather hoch
Pork rib noodle soup from Brother’s Noodles.

Brother's Noodles is not your typical Tucson Asian restaurant. Yes, you'll find egg rolls and General Tso's chicken, but you'll also find fried biscuits (see Roy Choi's recipe) and a full slate of noodle dishes as well an assortment of soups and some the best dumplings I've has in this city. The menu is also small instead of the behemoth ones found elsewhere. It's a nice change and dare I say, more authentic than most.

Located in a small store front, Brother's is brightly lit with a fast casual feel, but it's not. This is a table service restaurant. The only decorations, save for a large fan spread out on one wall, are large banners with photos of menu items. You are greeted with a smile and asked if you're dining in or taking out. There is a steady stream of customers coming in for takeout and a few dining in. Simple and straightforward and reasonably priced—just the perfect thing for a middle of the week dinner.

We began our meal with pork egg rolls ($1.89) and the above mentioned fried biscuits ($3.99). The dark dipping sauce was the perfect complement to the crispy, hot rolls that were filled with flavorful bits of pork and finely chopped vegetables. The fried biscuits, which might've worked better at the end of the meal thanks to the generous dusting of sugar, were also hot and sizzling and delectable.

Both entrées were generously portioned. The shrimp fried noodles ($8.99) was a mix of tender noodles, two types of onions, shredded carrots and about 10 perfectly turned shrimp. There was plenty left over to take home and we finished the dish off without ever having to reheat.

The Mongolian beef was pretty to look at with slices of red and green peppers, tiny chiles nearly blackened, green and white onions and thin, tenderized pieces of beef that had absorbed the oils and seasonings. The result was a spicy blend of textures and tastes. It was served with fluffy steamed white rice and what was admirable is that there wasn't too much of it. I am sure if we had wanted more there wouldn't have been a problem, but it was nice to see the focus on the entrée and not mounds and mounds of rice acting as filler.

Brother's offers lunch combinations: one item with either fried or white rice ($3.99) or a two item lunch ($5.49). Only a limited amount of menu items are available so we decided to opt for a couple of the Chef's specials: the garlic and white pork ($10.99) and the salt and pepper ribs ($12.99). We then ordered pork fried rice ($7.29), a small egg flower soup ($1.49) and a small hot and sour soup ($1.69). And for good measure an order of chicken egg rolls ($1.89).

We found the soups to be great iterations of each, although I preferred the hot and sour with its hint of fire and wonderful assortment of bamboo shoots, lily buds, mushrooms, scallions, tofu and such in a dark, savory broth. Often there is a greasy slickness to hot and sour. Not so here.

The fried rich was a huge mound of well-cooked rice laced with peas, carrots, onions and in this case juliennes of pork. Both were served with fried wonton strips.

The rice worked as perfect foil for the garlicky pork, taming some of the sharpness of the garlic. Served cold. the thin slices of white pork were trimmed out with a band of fat which added another layer of flavor. This dish proved that garlic, when in the right hands, is a good thing and in spite of the abundance of the stinking weed in the red tinted oil, the other flavors came through.

The egg rolls came to the table just as hot and tasting decidedly different than they did on our first visit. That tells me that the kitchen actually takes time with these staples.

The only dish that we found lacking were the ribs. Unlike other salt and pepper dishes I've had elsewhere, these were deep-fried in a batter. The tiny nubs were small consisting mostly of bone. They were tasty but hard to eat.

Service on both visits was ideal: friendly, helpful and not over-bearing.

I wish we lived in the delivery area as we really enjoyed the food at Brother's Noodles and there are several other items I'd like to try or order again (the dumplings come to mind.)

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