Heaven’s Noodle House

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The air was always lighter at En’s Noodle House.

Just driving by, casting a brief glance, you wouldn’t be able to tell. The exterior was nothing special. Unassuming, even. Poster-plastered glass, an abandoned bike, Mick — that fat white cat — either stretching, or all curled up. No, nothing stood out.

Except, maybe if you squinted, looked a little harder, you could make out the restaurant’s faint halo of sun. No matter how cloudy the sky, there was always that radiant sheen — illuminating, bright. “Welcome all, come all,” the sign read. And it was true. It was a place where you came as you were. Nothing more, nothing impressive.

Inside, chimes—thin and metallic—rang clear and delicate upon the door’s opening. The ambiance was a cacophony: a confused mix of coffee shop, retro diner, and Chinese supermarket. Strange. But somehow, for En’s, it worked.

Light jazz played in the background as groups and individuals alike slurped and chuckled. Red lanterns hung from the ceiling, and though most of the interior was painted a light green, a large mirror covered the rightmost wall. Steam wafted from the noodle bowls. The floor was made of linoleum; an unused jukebox sat in the corner. The workers wore checkered aprons, strolling with bowls and glass in their hands, managing the ebb and flow of customers. In the back, light streamed from breezy, fluttering curtains. The lack of clear identity was almost endearing; it coaxed a little laugh out of you upon first entry.

At the front was the cash register, where a smiling girl sat with a round, contented face. She wore glasses and rested her chin on both her hands, elbows propped on the counter. Everyday she watched.

She knew why they came to En’s. It wasn’t the noodles, or the music. It was the anonymity, the strange clash of elements: at En’s, nothing belonged. And therefore everything and everyone belonged. You could be jobless, divorced, profoundly unhappy with your life trajectory. Maybe the world thought you were cold-blooded. Maybe even your mother hated you. Maybe you were balding. Here, it didn’t matter. Here, there was communion. There was warmth. The noodle house embraced you. Unconditionally.

It was a happy place.

It was heaven.