Since fall 2021, No String Attached Noodle Bar (or NSA Noodle Bar, for short), has been serving up globally inspired fusion noodle dishes — from ramen to carbonara and beyond — at 135 N 5th Street with Executive Chef Brooke Apfelbaum at the helm.

The restaurant was established by experienced restaurateurs (who double as architectural designers) Chiwa Yeung and Spencer Cartledge and designed in part by Apfelbaum after her idea to sell pasta kits for La Margarita Pizzeria, which Yeung and Cartledge bought in spring 2020. Since then, the team expanded their noodle concept to an actual brick and mortar location featuring a myriad of both Italian and Japanese fare.

Greenpointers got in touch with Chef Brooke to discuss her mentorship of kitchen staff, the importance of simplicity, her favorite neighborhood taco spot, and more.

Greenpointers: What brought you to No Strings Attached?

Chef Brooke Apfelbaum: During the pandemic, I was applying everywhere and I applied to this place called La Margarita Pizzeria and that’s how I found out about Chiwa and Spencer, my owners. I ran that place for a year and a half during the pandemic and the landlord raised the rent, so we had to come up with an idea, so with my background of being an actual chef and not just being a pizza chef, I was just like, “Why don’t we open up a restaurant?” And so we came up with this noodle concept because I started doing at-home noodle kits at the pizzeria, and that was a big hit. So then we expanded that idea into finding an actual place where we can actually do noodles.


With my background, I came from the Culinary Institute of America. I’m also from Florida, so I wanted to bring some of my Floridian flair to the menu that we created, that’s why it’s more like a seafood-driven menu than anything. [Yeung and Cartledge are] architects, so we all have different concepts of how we wanted to do this — they structured the place how they wanted it and then I made the menu the way I wanted it. So that’s how we collaborated.

I found my team slowly; I started this place originally by myself and then I had another person come along with me. I kind of hire people who don’t have much experience so I can teach them how to cook or even serve or bartend. Most of my staff is actually from the military so I teach them how to work in the hospitality industry.

Greenpointers: How is NSA different from anywhere else you’ve been prior?

Chef Apfelbaum: I try to maneuver my management style differently because I grew up where chefs would yell at you, and it would be, like, really hostile coming to work. But for me, we’re a family here and working well together will make a great restaurant. We work well together, we feed off each other well. Like it should have a great impact on how customers feel about even coming into the restaurant, how homey it feels, how it’s not hostile; like it’s a good spot in the area for people to just come and chill or have a date night or even bring their kids. And the menu, I designed it so all types of people can eat it off of it — gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian, pescatarian.

Greenpointers: What is your philosophy in the kitchen?

Chef Apfelbaum: Again, I don’t yell unless it’s a really bad situation, but I like to teach my staff everything on hand and if they don’t know anything, they can ask me questions. They should never be scared to even bring up their own creativity. Because when I hire someone, I do tell them when we change the menu, I like everyone’s opinion before I even implement it. I know it’s usually just [the] executive chef, but I like to have everyone’s opinion ’cause we are cooking the food, so I like to have my staff like to cook what they cook.

I don’t want anything too complicated, because when we do have a bunch of people coming in, I love simplicity. The ingredients should speak for themselves.

Greenpointers: What would you recommend for someone dining with NSA for the first time?

Chef Apfelbaum: Either the truffle tonkotsu [ramen] or the angel hair uni, which is really nice. For the tonkotsu we do our house-braised pork chashu, and we infuse the broth with truffles. And the uni dish is really popular; we get our uni from California right now, usually Maine in the fall. We infuse that with angel hair and we top it with nori panko. So it’s an infusion of both Italian and Japanese flair.

Greenpointers: Is there anything coming up at the restaurant that you’re particularly excited about?

Chef Apfelbaum: Right now, we’re still planning on the fall menu. I’m really excited for fall dishes because it’s more comforting and hearty, like short ribs, maybe even oxtail. I feel like it’s gonna be really cold this year, so that’s up and coming.

Greenpointers: What are some of your favorite North Brooklyn spots?

Chef Apfelbaum: The Charleston, Vera Cruz, late-night bars. The Four Horsemen is really good. My favorite Mexican spot is definitely Taqueria Diana, I always go with friends at night. I love the vibe [in Williamsburg].

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