If you’re not familiar with the terms manga, anime or Dragon Ball Z, you may find the surroundings at Soupa Saiyan a little odd. Actually, even if you know about those things you may find the surroundings odd. But you might understand them a little more.
Soupa Saiyin (pronounce it like you’re sayin’ sayin’) is a hole-in-the-wall noodle house, the wall in question being in a sketchy looking mini strip mall on Vineland Road. The decor is based on manga (either comic books or graphic novels depending on your level of devotion) and anime, the Japanese animation style, usually based on manga sources, used in films and television shows. One such show is a franchise known as Dragon Ball Z and images and merchandise from the series fill the place.
Some of the characters in DBZ are extraterrestrials known as Saiyans with special powers. Super Saiyans, if you will. And when you know the inside joke that the names of the characters on Dragon Ball Z are all vegetable puns (Kakkorotto, Raditz) and they come from the Planet Plant, the name Soupa Saiyan seems brilliant.
Not that any of that knowledge is necessary to order a meal at Soupa Saiyan, or particularly helpful, for that matter. And despite all the Vegeta (the name of a prince), this is not a vegetarian restaurant.
The Philly egg rolls would be proof of that. Supposedly a fuse of a cheesesteak into an egg roll wrapper, the appetizer did not remind me of of a deep-fried Philly sandwich, but I appreciated the effort.
Steamed pork dumplings, though commonplace, were a better starter.
For my entree, I chose the kimchi stir fry, with big, fat and chewy udon noodles tossed with fried onions, chopped scallions, corn, carrot sticks and zucchini and topped with two well-boiled egg halves. I didn’t particularly pick up any telltale fermentation notes from the kimchi but I loved the noodles.
My companion had the chicken “pho,” a hearty broth with rice noodles, raw onions, chopped scallions and cilantro leaves as well as cubed and shredded chicken (it was supposed to include an egg but that was omitted). Combining the broth with the other ingredients made a substantial, if not super, soup.
Soupa Saiyan’s website is bizarre. It features an animation of someone slurping noodles, though it could just as easily be seen as someone regurgitating them. Instead of a helpful link to an online menu, there are only links to third-party delivery services and sites like Yelp and Google to “leave a review.” You can check on one of the third-party links to see the menu and order delivery or use that information to phone in for pickup.
If you pick up, you have the option of sitting in the dining area with backless stools and blackened walls. I guess it’s supposed to make you think like you’re sitting in a darkened anime house. I preferred to enjoy my food at home watching HBO.