The first one of the “holes in the wall” I wanted to talk about in this blog is the Chinese Noodle House, because it was there I had my first experience of real Chinese food, a real eye-opener. Since then, I have returned many many times, accompanied or alone, to get my fix of dumplings and hand-made noodles and rarely have l left disappointed.
Chinese Noodle House is known for their great food at an excellent value, their fast but sometimes also short service, and their a bit tacky décor of plastic tables and chairs, plastic grapes hanging from the ceiling and bucolic tapestries (apparently typical from Northern Chinese restaurants).
However, once you get past that, nothing matters anymore but the food, and you can tell by the crowds lining up at all times of day or week that they couldn’t care less either about plastic grapes or not ! The restaurant is so popular that they opened a sister restaurant next door 2 years ago, which serves the same dishes in a similar décor, but in a slightly less hectic pace, less crowded, with a very friendly service and that is where we now go every time.
We arrive on a Saturday evening and the hostess gives us a menu before they clear a table for us. At the mother restaurant you order as you line up, so that the food arrives as soon as you are seated and you can vacate your table sooner for some other hungry customer!
It is not the case here and the friendly waitress takes our order after leaving us time to sit and discuss our options… which always turns out to be useless anyway since, instead of trying out new things, we can’t seem to kick out our habit of choosing our old favorites!
These invariably include: Stir-fried hand-made Noodles with vegetables, Pork and chives pan-fried Dumplings, Vegetarian egg and chives pan-fried Dumplings, Cucumber Salad with loads of garlic and Fragrant Eggplant braised in special hot sauce with rice.
We start with the dumplings, all crunchy thanks to the pan-frying, juicy and very hot once you bite in it, they are so delicious my mouth is watering just writing this!
You can choose a regular portion (16 dumplings), a mid-size serve (10 dumplings) and a small size serve (6 dumplings).
All the other dishes arrive soon after and it is getting difficult to find room on the table to put them all!
It took me longer to really appreciate the stir-fried hand-made noodles, as I found them a bit too simple the first time, but I have come to like them so much over the years that they are now my favorites. I love their irregular shape and their firmness; they are sometimes so long you need to get help from the waitress who comes and cuts them with scissors!
The cucumber salad is very refreshing; the cucumber seems to have just been squashed and I love that there is so much garlic. Doesn’t look like it’s only a French thing after all!
By the time we get to the Special Eggplant dish, we only have room for a few bites. The eggplant pieces are caramelized and melt in my mouth. My companion M. thinks this dish is slightly better at the original restaurant however.
We are so full we have to ask for take-away containers, which they always gracefully provide. They must be used to people over-ordering to have some leftover for home!
The chef kindly accepts me to intrude in the kitchen and take a few pictures and shows me how they make the knife-cut noodles, the hand-made noodles and the dumplings, which was nice of him considering the space being quite small!
It is quite impressive to watch him prepare the hand-made noodles, which first look like a big wool ball, then laid out, picked up and rolled around both hands, then brutally thrown against the bench (made me jump of surprise!) to elongate them: they are then ready to cook.
We decide it’s time to go and ask for the bill, which comes to … $40.30! Unbeatable value considering we are so full we have to roll back home as well as carry bags full of leftovers! So you know where to go if you are after a fast, cheap, flavourful and plentiful meal in the city?? Chinese Noodle House all the way! Bonne journée a tous!
Chinese noodle House
Shop TG2/ 8 Quay Street
Haymarket NSW 2000
Ph: (02) 9281 4508