Roundeye Noodle Pop-up Runs Out, Satisfies

Yesterday, I went to the Roundeye Noodle Bar pop-up at Matyson. Having already experienced the Khyberkaya pop-up at the Khyber Pass Pub, I figured there would be a wait, and that it might be a bit of a shit-show. But a friend who knows Roundeye creators Ben Puchowitz and Shawn Darragh was less concerned. So we rolled over about 5:45 p.m. with a party of five–and were promptly informed there would be a two-and-a-half-hour wait.

We wound up cooling our jets at Dandelion where we enjoyed complimentary fizzy waters, cask beers and one truly great Fullers Bengal Lancer.

After seeing tweets that Roundeye was out of ramen, we headed back to Matyson around 8 p.m. The tweets were true: They were turning people away and a sign on the door read “Thank you for the support! Look for another pop-up in a few months.” Was it true? Would we really be turned away with nothing in our bowls? Having totally sold out in under four hours, we wondered if this was a case of “intentional scarcity” or just further proof that Philadelphia is DYING for ramen.

A server who recognized someone in our party (not me) checked with the kitchen again. Word came that there was enough for four bowls of duck pho. We sent word back that we’d happily share the four bowls five ways.

In a matter of minutes the soups appeared in front of us–not four bowls but five–and the slurping began. The tangy broth was spot-on. The meaty duck leg, perfect. The foie gras dumplings were plump and divine. I quickly decided I wanted these dumplings daily. One day in broth, fried the next day. And on their own would work too. Noodles were slurped. Broth ran down my chin. Rather than pause to wipe my face, I let the dribble drop back in the bowl. Excellent I thought. Now I’ll have another chance to drink it in.

After devouring the second dumpling and lifting the bowl to my lips, downing the last gulps of soup, I finally paused. That was great and we were lucky to get a chance at it.

As the kitchen and waitstaff wound down, the tally was announced: 220 bowls of ramen were served, and in just four hours. That’s almost a bowl a minute. So maybe this wasn’t a case of deliberately shorting the public. As Puchowitz pointed out, there’s only so much space you can take from a running restaurant.

So, obviously, they are on to something. And with the duck pho I had last night and the raves I heard for the Smoked Lobster Ramen Bowl served on last week’s lobster tasting menu, I hope they find a restaurant space pronto.

Otherwise I’ll just have to get to the next pop-up earlier.

Roundeye Noodle Bar [Official Site]



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  • rory

    matyson has about 50 seats (let’s say). 220 bowls = 4 seatings worth (assume a couple people are greedy), maybe 5 servings if the space is more like 40 seats.

    Started serving at 4 pm, ran out at 8 pm. hour per seating for a limited menu of soups. yep, not surprised they ran out. It’s a bowl of soup–that’s not supposed to be a leisurely dinner. considering matyson is normally seating people well past 9 pm, there should have been more soup. Then again, I’d bet the limit on amount of soup served was because of space in the kitchen and not intentional scarcity.

    Philly’s chefs need to learn that pop-ups need to be better managed–take reservations, sell tickets (seriously! SELL SOME DAMN TICKETS), do something, because these pop-ups being limited because they run out of food is pretty obnoxious and having to show up and wait for two hours to never get served (I put my name down @ 6 pm and never got a call or nothing), is an easy way to turn off potential customers.

  • jane

    I think you’re missing the point

  • Holly

    Who knew noodles could be so good? Not me….but then I’m pretty picky. The food was delicious! With several vegetarian options, there was something for everyone! Even my 2 year old ate it up! I highly recommend looking for their next pop-up and getting there early!

    and Rory…dinner should always be eaten at a leisurely pace…regardless of what you are eating.

  • John

    Food was great – place was packed. I figured there would be a crowd but was suprised to see what amounted to the entire first seating standing in line outside the restaurant fifteen minutes before opening.

    The Broccoli with Vietnamese sausage had just the right balance of sweetness and spiciness and the Duck Pho was perfect. The pineapple juice laced with jalapeno, vanilla, and Thai basil had a subtle kick and a blend that complemented the food. My wife was wild about the Coconut soup.

    I hope to see more of these terrific food offerings in Philly.

  • Andra

    This was the first time I ever went to a pop up and was amazed at the amount of prep and energy that went into the one presentation. But even more amazing was how delicious it was. Shawn is a marketeer so perhaps he suceeded to well in that area, but I think he reached out to everyone who didn’t get served and put them on a priority list for next time. But it was worth the wait!

  • patti

    Food was so flavorable ,atmosphere upbeat and service fast. Went home satisfied and smiling.