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A stone’s throw from Chinatown’s lacquered ducks and roast meats, Noodle House offers a more contemporary take on South-East Asian cuisine. Born in Dubai back in 2002, its wooden booths, red
banquettes, stripped-back decor and open kitchen suggest a chain, while the menu is designed for sharing. Noodles naturally loom large – think pad thai, soto ayam soup with ban mein, Singapore
vermicelli or udon-based mee goreng. Otherwise, succulent Malaysian beef rendang is a creamy, coconut-flavoured highlight, crispy tempura prawns come with spicy mayo and there are moreish banana
spring rolls to finish. The Noodle House is also big on fragrant bespoke teas, with jars displayed on a special ‘tea wall’; alternatively, head to the downstairs bar for an exotic, Asian-themed
cocktail – perhaps moon shadow (vodka infused with jasmine, chrysanthemum and Lillet Blanc teas, finished with iced hibiscus). Staff are proficient and friendly.
The Noodle House is a restaurant chain owned by Jumeirah Restaurants from Dubai, which today (Thursday 17 April 2014) opens its first UK branch in Soho, London.I was lucky enough to go to one of its 'soft opening' nights yesterday, effectively an opportunity for staff and management to practice running the restaurant ahead of the real opening - definitely a smart move.But a soft opening doesn't mean it was quiet - in fact far from it. It was full of diners (apparently made up mainly of friends and family of staff) and had a lively atmosphere, so it very much looked the part in one of the busiest parts of London.The girlfriend and I tried a selection of dishes. First came the 'Asian Salad'. Despite the generic name, it had a delicious and tangy citrus sesame dressing with a fried wonton skin on top - very refreshing. There were lots of ingredients in this (see caption), which meant there were lots of interesting textures and flavours; it was definitely not a boring salad.'Asian Salad': mixed greens, mangetout, red onions, spring onions, coriander, baby corn, cashews and sesame seeds tossed in citrus sesame dressing, served with a crispy wonton.The (seven) butter prawns were excellent. Served with the head separated (but still on the plate), the sauce was perhaps the real star. Cooked in a 'chilli curry butter', the dish didn't taste like any one particular ingredient, but rather a nice blend of many ingredients coming together. The char-grilled nature of the dish definitely added a slightly smoky flavour.Butter Prawns: char-grilled garlic marinated king prawns tossed in a chilli curry butter, topped with fried curry leaves and black vinegar.The bakmi goreng was another solid effort. The sauce had a subtle spicy kick after every mouthful. It's not too spicy though, so most people will be able to handle it. If you like stir-fried noodles, this would be a good choice.Bakmi Goreng: udon noodles with chicken, prawns, bean sprouts, cabbage, pak choi, eggs and a sweet chilli ginger sauce, garnished with spring onions and fried banana shallots.The vegetable fried rice was not bad and was generally a nice accompaniment for the rest of the meal. Fried rice is a pretty easy thing to make so it's difficult to get wrong.Vegetable Fried Rice: wok-fried jasmine rice with peas, sweetcorn, carrots and mangetout. Moving onto dessert, the girlfriend and I shared a lime and ginger cheesecake. Sometimes cheesecakes can be quite heavy but this one was of the lighter variety - not too rich. The lime and ginger flavour was quite subtle and I personally would have preferred it slightly stronger, though the girlfriend thought it was fine - so all down to personal preference I guess.Lime and Ginger Cheesecake. As expected with a soft opening, there were a couple of very minor hiccups along the way. The two-person cocktail we initially ordered was not available, and we received two portions of the butter prawns (not that we're complaining!) - but this is to be expected from a new group of people working together, so I'm not going to criticise them for that.More importantly, the staff I interacted with were friendly and seemed positive and excited about the restaurant. Plus, underpinning all of it is that the food is pretty good - not a bad effort at all.The Noodle House also serves cocktails.Closest Tube: Tottenham Court Road or Leicester SquareDisclaimer: I won a competition to attend the soft opening, which included a free meal (but not drinks). However at no point was I asked to write a positive review in return.
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