The Noodle House – Shaftesbury Avenue – Review

Daniel John Lynch

I’m a fat man trapped inside a skinny man’s body. After many years of working in the hospitality industry and travelling around the world, I’ve finally decided to do something with my worldly knowledge and write. I’m also a documentary film maker and lover of food and all things London. Follow me on Twitter @danieljohnlynch

Visitors (and a majority of Londoners) tend to flock to China Town when they’re looking for a decent Chinese in the capital. The only problem here is, in my opinion, that there’s no such thing as a decent Chinese restaurant in China Town.

If the restaurants in that area aren’t overpriced and over rated, then they’re the cheap, all you can eat buffets, where the food has been saturating in its own oil and grease for hours on end and only occasionally turned. Thanks, but no thanks. I’d rather keep my £6.90 and treat myself to a G&T. But just a stone’s throw away from China Town, on Shaftesbury Avenue, something new and exciting has arrived. The Noodle House. Finally! A restaurant that knows how to cook, prepare and present South East Asian food!

I decided to take my good friend Calum Ducat out for dinner this week. Calum and I have been friends for many years. Since I’ve known him, he’s played a fairly big part in the London gay scene and was been behind the legendary Monday club night, Popcorn at Heaven and currently, he’s the Assistant General Manager at The Shadow Lounge. The great thing about Calum, is that he speaks his mind. If he doesn’t like something, he’ll let you know, so either way, I knew I’d get an honest response to the food from him.

As you enter the front door of The Noodle House, you’re greeted by a busy, open plan kitchen. Looking into the kitchen, you could see every chef was busy doing something. There was not one team member slacking. We were shown to our seat, which was a nice comfy table near the window. As we sat down, the personable manager, Richard, informed us that we could charge our phones using the USB port next to the condiments. Yes, that’s right. Every table has a USB port so you can dine and charge at the same time. Brilliant!

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As we looked through the menu, I couldn’t help be drawn to this stunning map of South East Asia that was plastered across the back wall of the restaurant. It was something wonderful to see and really gave the place a nice warming atmosphere. It felt cosy and relaxed. Like all my favourite restaurants, it made me feel as if I was a guest in someone’s home.

Calum and I decided to order a few bits and pieces off the menu and to share as there was quite a bit to choose from and it all looked great. Our waitress, Charlotte, was extremely pleasant and helpful when it came to ordering the food. My pronunciation of some of the dishes would offend quite a few people, I’m sure. It was a case of pointing at a dish and saying “that one”. The food at The Noodle House comes out as and when it’s ready, so expect to get smaller plates with larger ones.

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Our first dish was Asian Salad. I’m not a huge fan of salad as I find them pretty bland and boring. This however, was a little different. With 18 different ingredients, every mouthful was a new flavour. Mangetout, red onions, coriander, cashews and baby corn are just a few of the ingredients. It was a fantastic dish.

The Chicken and Pork Siew Mai were these succulent, steamed dumplings that were served with a hot chilli bean sauce. The meat inside was perfectly moist and seasoned. I could have happily sat there with 30 of them and ate them all to myself.

Calum ordered the Thai Green Curry with Chicken for himself with Jasmine Rice. This was incredibly flavoursome and actually reminded me of the Thai curries I had on the street markets in Thailand. You could taste the freshness of the sauce. It was obvious this wasn’t from a jar or just a paste that was then mixed with coconut milk. This was the real deal.

We were recommended the Beef Char Kway Teow (this was a fun one to try and pronounce). Flat rice noodles with tender strips of beef mixed with bean sprouts, leeks, tenderstem broccoli, spring onions, garlic, chives and egg. This was a whole meal in itself. The vegetables in this dish were stir fried perfectly and still maintained their crisp crunch and flavour.

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The Pork Tom Yum was a fragrant and spicy dish that was just divine. Slow cooked shredded pork in a Tom Yum broth (a spicy and slightly sour broth from Thailand) with tomatoes and chilli. This was again a fantastically prepared dish that had an array of herbs and spices used to give it such a well-rounded flavour.

Finally, the Cantonese Roast Duck. This is quite possible the most popular dish at any Chinese restaurant, but also the most standard. I’ve never had Cantonese duck and thought to myself ‘That was insanely delicious’. Well that was all about to change. Unlike most South East Asian restaurants, the ducks here are marinated for over 20 hours and cooked fresh to order. So not only do you get a the fresh julienne cucumber and leeks with a sweet hoi sin sauce, but you also get a stunning piece of duck that has been cooked fresh, carved and best of all, isn’t as dry as Gandhi’s flip flop!

For me, The Noodle House is now to go to place when it comes to SE Asian food. Not only is the food spot on and the service wonderful, but there’s all the little gems inside too that make it really special. The USB chargers. Sure, it’s a small little thing, but how many times have you wanted to charge a phone in a restaurant, but have been too embarrassed to ask to use thee plug socket? Here they’re practically telling you that whilst you’re dining with them, this is your house too!

So, if you already live in London or you find yourself visiting the city and want Chinese, Thai, Malaysian etc. I urge you to try The Noodle House on Shaftesbury Avenue. I guarantee you’ll fall in love with it like I have.

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