I would have never ever thought of eating at Noodle Oodle, if I hadn’t stumbled upon this reviewÂ on Time Out. Â The reallyÂ cheesy name as well asÂ its location at the cheap end of Oxford Street, together with the not very appealing, overly bright exterior, promised culinary disaster.
ButÂ once you have made your way past the picture-laced menu and the dragon waitress who welcomed us with a “no tables” and again “no tables” while we were standing in the door looking confused at the empty tables behind her in the small dining area, you will be pleasantly surprised.
The food was very lovely indeed and I particularly appreciated the choice of delicious soup noodles on the menu. Â I could eat Asian soup noodles at least once a day and I love every form and variety of them – Pho, Udon, Soba, Ramen, LaksaÂ and now, as a newÂ addition, La-Mian, which are hand-pulled Chinese noodles. Â The chef was expertly pullingÂ his noodle (not what you think, you and your dirty mind!) doughÂ just behind the counter in the dining room (so no doubt that the noodlesÂ are indeed hand-pulled on the premises!), and it reminded me of Italian pizza chefs working their dough.
There is a choice of 10 different noodle soups at Noodle OodleÂ with none more than Â£7.50,Â and now, with the cold creeping in and days becoming shorter, I see myself as a regular customer at Noodle OodleÂ indulging in warming and comforting La-Mian soup.
The menu with pictures is separatedÂ into starters and mains. Â I should know better by now that even if there is a starter section on a Chinese menu, the so called “starters”Â will come together with the main, or like it was the case at Noodle Oodle, after the mains. Â The tables are tiny, so I recommend ordering in patches and not everything together.
We chose a starter from the Specials section, the Cold Platter (5.5), to sample a choice of three of their salads.Â Â None of them was as good as IÂ experienced them at Ba ShanÂ andÂ were undoubtedlyÂ the weaker part of the meal. Â I enjoyed the shredded potatoes with chilli oil which had a nice kick to them. Â Less exciting were the cucumbers in chilli oil, which were apart from the chilli heat, rather tasteless. Â Do not order the Chinese black fungus. Â I usually rather like this ugly-looking mushroom, but the Noodle Oodle version tasted of nothing, apart from maybe a bit of vinegar. Â Not nice.
Everything else however was absolutely delicious. Â I didn’t expect much of the Chicken and Vegetable DumplingsÂ (4.9) which looked rather unattractive, but then they were proof that dumplings should never be judged by their exterior. Â The dense and well seasoned chicken mince with ginger, garlic and spring onions was wrappedÂ in a thin layer of dough and that was just a little bitÂ ’al dente’. Â These little parcels of delight swam in a little pool of Chinese vinegar and soy sauce adding just the right amount of salty and sour.
As recommended in the Time Out review, we sampled the Roast DuckÂ (Â£7 for a quarter duck). Â I expected the bird’s skin to be crisp, to my disappointment it was limp and soggy. Â The taste though was spot-on with the duck meat being moist and tender and the sauce rich with notes of caramel. Â It is always a bit risky to order Sichuan style dishes in a Shanghai restaurant, so the Dan DanÂ La-MianÂ (7.5) was not as chilli-powered and Sichuan pepper heavy as you would find it in Dan Dan Noodles at Ba Shan or Bar Shu. Â The dish was beautiful nevertheless. Â The hand-pulled noodles had so much flavour to them and provided a perfect vehicle Â for the not too spicy chilli sesame broth.
There are no alcoholic drinks on the menu (I don’t know if they allow BYO) but as long as you give me Brown Rice TeaÂ (3) I am happy. Â Interestingly, and good news for my Muslim readers – Noodle OodleÂ claims to be the “first Chinese restaurant in the UK to serveÂ Halal Shanghainese cuisine”.
For West Londoners – there is another Noodle Oodle in Queensway, which according to some of my twitter followers is fantastic too.
- Food: 7.5/10
- Service: 4/10
- Ambiance: 5/10
- Value for Money: 10/10
- Verdict:Â Unexpectedly brilliant Chinese caff with the most amazing hand-pulled noodles.