The name Noodle Oodle might not be familiar to many but mention Inn Noodle and a few more might recollect a fast-paced noodle restaurant. This London restaurant holds the world record for hand-pulled noodles, and has reopened with a new name and look. It was opened in the summer by London’s deputy mayor, Richard Barnes.
The restaurant which specialises in Shanghainese cuisine was awarded the Guinness World Record for the most number of bowls of hand-pulled noodles in less than three minutes, when its head chef, Fei Wang, beat the “celebrated” Gordon Ramsay in a head-to-head competition. Leave it to the experts, Gordon. Chef Wang has also appeared on UKTV Food’s Market Kitchen.
La Mien or Hand Pulled Noodles originate in Northwest China and Lanzhou in Gansu Province and are a popular dish all over China. The open kitchen at Noodle Oodle allows the customers as well as passers-by to witness the skill of Chef Wang who seems to be able to make these delicious noodles in seconds. But that’s not all that’s on offer here.
Noodle Oodle at 25 Oxford Street is a small establishment surrounded by unprepossessing shops. One might not expect to find such good food right here but this spot has been discovered by a host of discerning customers. It’s a bijou restaurant with dark wood tables and cream walls. It doesn’t shout Chinese restaurant. There isn’t a fish tank or carvings of willow-pattern scenes. The surroundings are unfussy and practical.
There seems to be a reassuring number of regular diners at Noodle Oodle. Europeans and Asians alike who have recognised this eatery as good value for money. A glance around at one’s fellow clients will offer the mental note “don’t over-order”. The portions are substantial. There are always meal promotions for £5.70 and also a 3 course offer for £9.80. Dim Sum, pork or chicken of various kinds and rice or noodles as well as a dessert for under a tenner is amazing.
The restaurant, although small, has three kitchen areas. The dramatic noodle-pulling arena in the window, a dim sum station and a separate area for stir-fries. The chefs are specially trained in China and are prized for their skills. We resolved to take advantage of those aforementioned skills and ordered a selection of dishes. There are 100 or so dishes on the menu, each with a clear picture, text and description in both Chinese and English. This must be a great relief to non-English speaking tourists.
We started with the Pork Dumplings. I think the management should rename these as Magic Dumplings. There is a trick and safety measure for eating these. Pick one up with chopsticks and place on spoon. Nibble a corner to allow some of the broth to drain into the spoon and then enjoy in a couple of hot bites and a slurp. But how are they made? A trade secret. The Pork and Vegetable Dumplings are also worth trying. The Queensway branch offers Halal dishes. These have had the pork replaced by chicken. The chefs have taken great care (3 months or so of experimenting with different recipes and cooking methods) to achieve results that are a good approximation of the original.
You’ll not want to miss the famous noodles. The texture is quite unlike that of dried, commercial varieties. The restaurant makes the fresh dough three or four times each day. They are the key ingredient for a collection of dishes but we chose to try them in a broth. This was flavourful and light and alone would have made a hearty meal.
The aromatic Beef Stew Pot was another rib-sticking dish. This had a rich sauce with plenty of chunks of meat. The seasoning was subtle and unmistakably Chinese with tones of five spice. The stew was served in a clay pot which made for an attractive presentation. Special fried rice helped to mop up the sauce. My guest pronounced this the best rice he had eaten in a long time.
The roast meat platter was exceptionally good. The duck was cooked to perfection, the Barbecue Pork was moist and flavourful but I’ll say the Crispy Pork should be as much a signature dish as the noodles. The meat was succulent but the crackling was a triumph. You won’t want to miss this dish. I consider myself a reasonable cook but I have never managed to cook pork, and more importantly its skin, so well.
If you have a inch of room left at the end of a meal you could consider a dessert. The Mango and Pomelo Sago is cool, creamy and refreshing although it’s made with skimmed milk. A no-guilt pleasure.
No surprise that Noodle Oodle is so popular. It has a cult following of regulars and a good passing trade of tourists. I’ll return and try more from this menu that offers something different from most Chinese restaurants. Quick service. Good prices. Great food. Happy customers.
25 Oxford Street, London W1D 2DW (non Halal)
106 Queensway, London W2 3RR
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018