Sunday, March 14, 2010

Noodle Kingdom

Taking me up on a plea to relish some authentic Chinese food in Adelaide my new Chinese housemates decided we would dine at Noodle King on Gouger Street.

Saturday night on Gouger Street and it’s a given that it’s going to be choc-o-bloc in terms of both finding a parking spot and a table at restaurant. Added to the regular weekend chaos this particular Saturday was increasingly busy in and around the CBD thanks to the ongoing V8 Super Car Clipsal and Fringe Festival, although I have to say we were lucky on our way to dinner and not-so-lucky on our way back, enjoying a fair share of people-watching!

The restaurant was two-thirds full round about eight o’ clock when we entered, filled with mostly Asian patrons. The menu features pictures of every single dish with captions underneath in Chinese as well as detailed English translations and a guide to the spice level (one chilli going up to four chillis’) and this proves helpful to non-Chinese clients like me. However, on this particular Saturday the menu served merely as a picture book that I flicked through as I left entrusted my housemates to do the ordering, in Chinese of course!

While my dinner companions enjoyed Taro Shakes in light shades of lavender served up in old fashioned ice cream sundae glasses I decided to take the edge off the long week I’d had with a glass of Peter Lehman’s Riesling from the Barossa Valley, priced at $ 4.50 p/ glass. This paired well with the spicy Fujian and Schezwan food we sampled.

For starters out came a pile of seaweed, simply long green strings with a noodle like structure, somewhat flavourless, chewy sliced pigs ears (a first for me – very crunchy thanks to all that cartilage), along with a plate piled with boiled chicken’s feet with the skin on, white and knobbly – not entirely appetising (I could not summon up the courage to sample them as number one it looked extremely creepy, and two I am not a fan of floppy, gelatinous textures be it meat, rice or otherwise – although I must boast that I have tried deep fried crispy chicken feet and do enjoy them cooked that way).

We tucked in eating straight from the shared plates using our chopsticks. Without much of a wait the table was laden with a number of other dishes: braised deep fried tofu with bok choy and straw mushrooms topped with a mound of chopped coriander and spring onions, sliced pork belly stewed in red wine to be eaten with spongy, thick, sweet bread pockets (reminiscent of Chinese bao), a big bowl of fragrant broth spiced with anise seed and light soy with a generous serve of hand-made noodles and sliced braised mutton and a platter of crispy deep fried nuggets of chicken rubbed in Chinese five-spice powder tossed with dried birds eye red chillies, Schezwan peppercorns to infuse the hot flavour and chopped garlic shoots that tasted divine! And of course let me not forget the ubiquitous steel drum of steamed rice to accompany all this.

The pork belly was a disappointment I thought as it was not cooked long or slow enough – and the marinade hadn’t begun to penetrate the meat either, and the horrifyingly artificial colour didn’t quite help in any way.

The noodle and mutton broth was delectable – perfect for a cold winter’s night. And the garlic shoots were for me the high point of the evening – a combination of green beans and spring onions – so many times I have seen them in the market and never known what to do... now I do!

All in all Noodle King provided us with a meal that was satisfying on all counts amounting to $18 p/ head (there were four of us).

3/31 Gouger Street,

Adelaide, SA

08 8221 5707