175 Russell Street (near cnr Bourke)
Web: Can’t find it
BYO: It’s licensed
Doggie bag: Didn’t ask, they’d probably let you though.
Noodle Kingdom is one of a strip of Russell Street Asian joints just around the corner from Bourke Street. It is noteworthy for the guy trapped in a glass case (of emotion?) making noodles by hand, and therefore is the stop off point for school excursions to gawk in through the glass as we witnessed last Wednesday. The more junior staff (aka the ones with shallower wallets) were farewelling a colleague which management in their infinite wisdom had decided to let go just before he had a baby and we got smashed by work. Good one.
The service was very friendly. The waiter cracked jokes with us which was a definite plus when it comes to some of the more surly Asian establishments in the city which throw your food at you and run. Tick! The space itself is also slightly nicer than the aforementioned venues, with a cramped aisle running down the side of the shop widening out and providing room for tables of six such as ourselves.
By way of apology for the photos, I was a little embarrassed to take photos because not all of my coworkers know I’m exploring my love of food in a bloggery way – although I do have quite the reputation as a food-lover at work and am the butt of jokes at morning tea as I elbow people out of the way to get to the scones. It’s surprising that I’m not much, much fatter than I am, on a side note. Go basketball and netball for keeping one’s gluttony in check!
So to return this review to some semblance of succinct-ness, we knew we had to order noodle dishes, if only to give the man in the glass box a reason to be there. I ordered the stewed beef soup with thick flat wheat noodles (above). It was terrific. The noodles were chewy and resilient but silky and slippery at the same time. I can see why the place is called Noodle Kingdom. The beef was a little fatty but flavoured the broth of the soup really well. I added a teaspoon of chilli in oil from the condiments pot on the table and my soup had just the right amount of spicy… without being ridiculous.
My coworkers ordered similar things to me: mutton with spicy chilli soup, dry noodles with beef, combination noodle soup (or something like that). Noises of hungry appreciation were made around the table. We washed it down with Tsingtao beer.
On a side note, it’s really hard to use chopsticks when you’ve jarred your finger at basketball the night before and have it taped up. I almost had to give up and ask for a fork, but I refused to be that white stereotype, and muddled on, splashing my (thankfully black) work dress all over!
I almost needed a nap after lunch my meal was so filling (or was it the beer?). One thing we did note was that we all felt thirsty all afternoon, suggesting a liberal hand with the ol’ MSG. I don’t mind a bit of flavour enhancer here and there but if you’re sensitive it might be something to check up on.
Other bloggers have had more mixed reactions to Noodle Kingdom: it seems the original one in Preston might still be the best, so if you want to do EXTENSIVE reading before you go you can check up on all four outlets! Regarding Russell Street: Juganaut’s Foodie Thoughts prefers the Preston branch, and wasn’t too impressed with the dumplings on a recent dumpling crawl; Barley Blog didn’t love it and spotted the copious amounts of MSG too; Nouveau Potato likes the vegetarian noodle offerings; and Mel: Hot or Not deemed it a Not! Just in case you think I am too easily impressed with my favourable review above, given all these other more negative reviews, Fabulous Food and a Little Frolicking loves the hand-pulled noodles and had a good experience.