East by Northeast Changes Direction

Chef Phillip Tang is transforming his Cambridge 'fine dining' spot into a laid-back noodle house.

east by northeast

Photo via East by Northeast/Facebook

East by Northeast chef-owner Phillip Tang is forsaking tasting menus and the culinary world’s beloved “small plate.” On the cusp of his Cambridge restaurant’s five-year anniversary, Tang has decided to go back to his first love: noodles.

“What I want to do at this point is go back to basics and the original concept that I’d first envisioned,” Tang says. “I want my restaurant to be more of a casual noodle house; that’s something that’s slipped away from me. We’ve started doing the tasting menus and we’ve had some fun experimenting with them, but thinking about the longevity of the restaurant and where I want the focus to be, it’s always been the handmade, hand-crafted noodles.”

Starting on November 25, Tang will be implementing larger portions, quicker service, and steaming bowls of his piquant smoked pork confit ramen—a specialty once confined to Wednesday nights. Other additions to East by Northeast’s overhauled menu will be a spicy beef soup with braised brisket, thick cut noodles, and marrow butter; a veggie ramen with smoked king oyster mushrooms and red miso butter; and mapo dofu with chorizo, squash, and pickled celery. Another major focus of Tang’s new noodle house vision will be the steamed buns, made fresh in-house everyday. Served a la carte, the baos will be topped with options like braised lamb and pickled beets, fried hake, or standard pork belly.

“While we love what we’ve done, I never intended the restaurant to be a fine dining destination where someone might come only once a year, just on a special occasion,” Tang says. “I want it to be a casual neighborhood spot where someone could pop in for a beer and a bowl of noodles on a weekday and get out of there spending less than $25. I want the restaurant to reflect how I actually like to eat. While I love fine dining and dressing up every once in a while, that’s no the type of place I go back to frequently, mainly because it’s cost prohibitive.We’ve moved away from that, so I really want to pull it back in.”

East by Northeast Menu

1128 Cambridge St., Cambridge; 617-876-0286 or exnecambridge.com.