Little Noodle, big taste: Garland restaurant owner to appear on Food Network’s ‘Supermarket Stakeout’
Wed., April 19, 2023
Garland District’s Little Noodle and Itty Bitty Buddha Bar owner and chef Kadra Evans will be featured on Food Network’s “Supermarket Stakeout” on April 25. (COLIN MULVANY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)Buy a print of this photo
Kadra Evans is the next Spokane chef to add “reality TV contestant” to her résumé.
The owner of Little Noodle and Itty Bitty Buddha Bar in the Garland District will hit TV screens Tuesday on the Food Network’s “Supermarket Stakeout,” hosted by Alex Guarnaschelli.
The show drops four chefs outside a grocery store, where they must convince shoppers to hand over their bags in exchange for money. Assigned a food theme for each round, the chefs return to a parking lot pop-up kitchen and must make do with whatever ingredients are inside. (They don’t get to peek). Judges send the chefs with the least successful dishes home, and the last chef standing earns a year’s worth of groceries.
“It was my first time doing anything like that,” Evans said. “Having people talk to me while I’m cooking isn’t anything new,” but it was hard to get used to production, who would ask her to turn toward the camera, smile or look up.
“The other contestants had done at least two shows. One guy had done six shows,” she said. “I can get why they’re a little calmer than I am.”
Evans’ TV spotlight is overdue. She was slated to be on “Chopped” or “Guy’s Grocery Game” in April 2020. But the COVID-19 pandemic postponed those plans.
Food Network reached out to her in September and offered her another shot.
“It was very flattering to even be asked to do it,” she said.
After binge-watching “a bunch of episodes,” she knew “Supermarket Stakeout” was right for her.
“Spokane happens to be that little bit of a hub for new chefs and creativity,” Evans said. “Tony Brown, Travis (Tveit) from Chowderhead, Chad White. We’ve got our own little mecca of people.”
The Garland Theater will air the episode at 8:45 p.m. Tuesday. Admission is one can of food for donation to the local food bank.
How’d she get here?
Evans began her foray into food when she managed a since-closed Asian restaurant on the South Hill. After the owner trained her on the menu, “I just fell in love with cooking.”
From there, she went on to places like Wandering Table, Lucky You, Clover, Cochinito and most recently North Hill, where she was head chef.
“When (North Hill was closed from 2019-21), there was a barbecue shop across from us, and he was only open seasonally, so I decided to ask if I could sublease during the winter when he was closed to try out my concept,” Evans said.
After sharing the space with Honey Pig BBQ for two years, she bought all the equipment and officially made the spot her restaurant’s home, which isn’t far from her real home.
“I live 300 feet from the restaurant,” she said. “I’ve had my house for 20 years.”
While the neighborhood has a lot of bars, most of them offer fried dishes.
“I don’t really eat that kind of food,” she said.
So, she decided to go a healthier route.
On the menu
“Asian food was the first thing I learned how to cook,” said Evans, who studied pho under the owner of the now-defunct Asian eatery.
“I took what I learned from there and I expanded it,” she said, emphasizing her use of top-quality ingredients, like mushrooms from Spokane Valley’s Far Land Fungi or bones from Ramstead Ranch in Ione, Washington.
“Using those prime ingredients changes my flavor from my pho,” she said.
It’s no surprise her top-seller is the Pho, $12.50, which comes in a heaping bowl of rice noodles in a beef broth served with white onion, cilantro and a side plate of a cabbage-carrot blend, fresh basil, lime, jalapeño, sriracha and hoisin. Customers can add a protein such as tri-tip, smoked pork, pork belly, smoked tofu, shrimp, chicken or smoked Spam, for $3 to $5.
The Pho-Rito, $14.50, has all the fixings of the Pho wrapped in a tortilla and served with a side of broth for dipping.
Evans highly recommends the Udon Kimchi, $12.50, with fat udon noodles in a spicy beef broth topped with house kimchi, soft marinated egg, jalapeños, saffron daikon, bok choy and a garnish of chili oil, togarashi, fried garlic, sesame seeds and house herbs, or the Kalbi Ribs, $17, served with sunomono cucumber and an onsen egg.
Would you like a drink with that?
Nestled inside Little Noodle is an even smaller space: Itty Bitty Buddha Bar, which is home to a couch, some bartop stools and a few corner chairs. Evans was a bartender long before she became a chef, and her extensive drink menu is proof.
Best-sellers include the Smoked Pear Old Fashioned and the Berry Blossom.
“I love the Berry Blossom, because I’m a gin drinker, so that one’s really good,” she said.
Other drinks include the Thai Tea Tiki, $12, a boozy twist on the classic Southeast Asian coconut milk drink, and the Mushroom Coffee Volcano, $14, with a local lion’s mane tincture added to coconut tequila topped with falernum and Crimsa liqueurs and local Pitotti’s cold brew coffee, garnished with a fiery cinnamon stick and a dash of toasted cinnamon.
You can visit the bar through Little Noodle’s entrance, but after hours, the Itty Bitty Buddha Bar can be accessed through the back alleyway. The bar offers a late-night menu: Build-It Bae Buns ($14), Asian Butter Board ($14), Yaka Mein ($14) and Pho ($16).
Specialty drinks are regularly tested as part of Teaching Tiki Tuesday. A different guest bartender visits every Tuesday from 5 to 9 p.m., offering a custom cocktail for the evening. The guests can take their earnings for the night, but many choose to give proceeds to a charity of their choice. Each visit is filmed and shared on TikTok, garnering hundreds of views.
While not a guest of the bar, another Little Noodle chef, Tasko Lopez, recently poured and filmed to raise money for the Spokane Art School.
“I like long walks on the beach, and I’m an Aquarius,” he quipped in a TikTok video, before sharing his recipe for a Singapore Sling.
The multifaceted Lopez, one of nine employees, painted a mural in Little Noodle with Maneki-nekos, or lucky cats, and a cartoonish racoon slurping up pho noodles.
He also specializes in cooking for people with allergies (he works for a summer kids camp in upstate New York, specializing in allergen-free meals), so most of the menu can be modified as gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan or otherwise.
“Since we make everything completely to order, it’s easy for us to do even soy allergies,” Evans said.
While Evans’ fate on “Supermarket Stakeout” can’t be revealed until her episode premieres Tuesday, patrons can enjoy her food noon-8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and noon-6 p.m. Sundays at 713 W. Garland Ave.
“We’re just super passionate about creating clean, fresh eats, but with that Asian flair,” she said.
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