Thursday, July 12, 2012

Chinese Noodle Restaurant: Value on the grape vine

There are so many great little gems in Sydney's Chinatown for good value eating that I'm not sure I'll ever get to discover them all. One relatively well-known sardine tin of a place is Chinese Noodle Restaurant, which is down the Burlington end of Chinatown for those with 1980/90s memories.

Grape ceiling hangings at Chinese Noodle Restaurant, Quay Street, Haymarket
The place is packed on a Friday evening with all walks of life: students for a cheap feed, suits for a cheap feed and families for a cheap feed. The common theme is a strongly attractive proposition, but so too the plastic vines and grapes hanging from the restaurant's ceiling and complimentary Chinese tea.

There's another restaurant called Chinese Noodle House a few doors over, with similar signage (and Chinese name) - but no grapes, I think.

At the very busy and popular Chinese Noodle Restaurant, there's sometimes the need to share a table with another group, but the very efficient and kind of friendly staff manage it well.

Hand stretched noodles with lamb and vegetables
It would be weird to be at Chinese Noodle Restaurant and not order noodles. From my seat in the dining room, I could see the chefs at work - one pulling and stretching the noodles by hand to a thick, slightly uneven shape before a quick plunge into boiling water for our dish.

A soupy mix of lamb, capsicum, onion and celery join our rather overfilled noodle dish, not a pan-fried dish as seems the common order. The noodles have a blissfully chewy texture that's perfect for soaking up the spiced gravy, while the thin slices of lamb are unexpectedly tender. Ticks all round.

'Fish fragrant' stir fried eggplant in sweet sauce
This Sichuan style stir-fried egplant dish doesn't actually have any fish in it; rather it describes the type and style of sauce, which is mostly sweet with a depth of flavour that comes from vinegar and bean paste.

The thick, caramelly sauce covers chunks of lightly deep fried eggplant in what has to be one of my favourite ways of eating eggplant, which in turn is fast becoming one of my favourite vegetables.

Pan fried pork dumplings
And we can't resist an order of dumplings with a few options on Chinese Noodle Restaurant's menu. The piping hot, golden-bottomed dumplings are best left for a little while to save from burnt tongues, as they're straight off the heat.

The crunchy pastry bottoms and soft chewiness of the non-pan fried parts are equally enjoyable while the pork and cabbage fillings are tastiest when eaten with a touch of vinegar sauce and chilli oil.

Three dishes between three people was more than enough for quite a substantial dinner and the bill came to less than $10 a head. If that's not good value for a meal, I don't know what is - get that out on the grape vine.

Chinese Noodle Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Tina @ bitemeshowme said...

Love it when you find cheap eats without even expecting it! Those 3 plates do look very generous! Like you, it's so hard to go to a Chinese restaurant without ordering noodles.. haha

catty said...

Oh man you've got me craving dirty nasty chinese food now!

Richard Elliot said...

It's such a great little restaurant.

I thought that the grapes and mountain scene tapestries on the wall might be a throw back to the former restaurant that was once there, but a Chinese friend told me they are specific to the region that the restaurant owners are from.

I love the chicken salad there if you haven't tried it.

Finally a recent discovery is that there is a little passageway round the back of the restaurant leading to the supermarket round the corner. They quite often have the door open and you can get a great view into the kitchen.

john@heneedsfood said...

I really like this little place. The food, the cheap prices and that typical "what do you want/here's your food" kind of service. Great noodles and decent dumplings. Looks like I need to go try that eggplant dish!

Anonymous said...

I've been going here since I was little, when my big brother used to "jam" with the owner (Mr Sing) on the violin. The smell always reminds me of my childhood :)

Tina said...

Hi Tina - If dumplings are on the menu, I'll almost always order them!

Hi catty - Your comment is probably more accurate than PC :D

Hi Richard - I could actually see the entire kitchen from where I was sitting; very clean and very organised!

Hi John - For the price, it's excellent. Looking forward to trying more noodles - if I can get away from the dumplings...

Hi scoffandquaff - How cute! There was a guy outside playing an instrument too! Can't remember exactly if it was a violin or not...

Vivian - vxdollface said...

What a great find and good value too! I love eating eggplants, I find that they tend to soak up the sauces really well :) Sichuan food tends to be quite spicy, was the eggplant spicy?

Ramen Raff said...

mmmm pan fried dumplings! I love Chinatown & all its little gems


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