Behind the red door of Noodles Fresh, hungry customers can get a taste of cuisines from various provinces in China.
Noodles Fresh, a Chinese restaurant and tea house that opened its first location in El Cerrito in 2015, opened in Berkeley on March 1.
“Our focus is to make the famous as traditional, as authentic as possible so that when people eat, that dish reminds them they are in that region, eating that food,” said restaurant co-owner Wenyan Petersen.
Wenyan Petersen co-founded the restaurant with her husband Tom Petersen, who has a background in business.
Wenyan Petersen designed the restaurant herself, driven by a “passion for Chinese gourmet food.” She added that she was inspired by her father, who enjoyed cooking.
Wenyan Petersen said she grew up in Jiangxi, a province in China that is famous for its rice noodles.
“I went to school in a different city and then I worked in a few cities in China, and then no matter where I go I will bring the rice noodle with me and then I always cook the way I want the rice noodle to be cooked,” Wenyan Petersen said. “Even though now I live overseas, I still bring them with me and then I said I should share this nice concept, you know, nice food with western diners.”
Food items based on traditional dishes from Jiangxi are labeled “house special” on the menu.
Dishes are named after the regions in China from which they come, such as the Shanghai scallion, Yunnan over-the-bridge and Yangzhou stir-fry.
“We like it,” said Yan Heim, one of the restaurant’s customers who is originally from China. “This is a comfort food for us.”
The restaurant is decorated to incorporate elements of Chinese culture, including lamps made from porcelain and a teapot display shelf. The use of porcelain was inspired by Jingdezhen, a city in Jiangxi that Wenyan Petersen referred to as the porcelain capital of the world.
The restaurant also has a secret menu, composed of dishes that are more complex and require more effort to make. Wenyan Petersen said these items are intended for customers who are familiar with the restaurant and the capabilities of its master chefs.
Daria Wrubel, a Berkeley resident and regular customer at the El Cerrito location, said they like the promptness of the service and the restaurant’s many gluten-free options.
“The owners are super friendly and we’ve just always had great experiences there,” Wrubel said. “I think this new space is beautiful, so I’m excited to try it.”