Back when I first arrived in Dubai, I lived close to a Noodle House and used to order takeaway from it every so often - the tom yum soup, edamame beans and chicken siew mai are favourites of mine.
A year or so later, after moving house and now finding myself a fair distance from any outlets, I stopped ordering from them, perhaps because, subconsciously, I didn't want to be disappointed.
A week ago, though, my friend and I were wandering through The Dubai Mall looking for somewhere to eat dinner and we spotted a Noodle House. This branch, coincidentally, is the latest to open, bringing the total up to 15 across the GCC.
The interior follows the same modern Asian aesthetic as previous openings, with lots of faux wood and latticed windows, which let in plenty of light. The place was buzzing with people when we visited, as was the outdoor terrace with its views of the Burj Khalifa and Dubai Fountain. It's certainly a pleasant, relaxed place to have a meal.
I rather like the tick-the-box menu at The Noodle House; it makes for speedy, hassle-free ordering. On that day we ticked plenty of those boxes and selected a number of dishes to share.
While a few more pieces of meat would have been nice, the duck and watermelon dish kicked things off nicely. The occasional cube of watermelon was perhaps a little past its prime - pale and woolly tasting - but the shards of duck were crisp-skinned with soft meat, the sliced raw onions and salad greens were fresh and crunchy and the mint leaves aromatic. All had been properly doused in a salty but moreish hoisin sauce.
A decent-sized bowl of prawn crackers were crisp and grease-free, which is all you can ask for really, and the mushroom mixture that filled our gyozas was deeply flavoured and well-seasoned.
After polishing these off, the larger plates took quite a while to appear; in fact, they arrived just as my friend was making her way to the counter, to enquire as to their whereabouts. Although generously portioned, the crispy chicken with plum sauce was by far the weakest dish of the entire meal. The nuggets of meat may have once had a crisp exterior, but the excessive amount of overly sweet sauce that they had been covered in had clearly put paid to that and rendered them soggy. The meat was also rather too stringy for my liking.
Conversely, the teriyaki beef tenderloin was spot on. The sliced meat was charred on the outside and soft in the centre, with a subtle smokiness and full flavour. The sour, sweet and salty flavours of the sauce were well balanced and we lapped up the very last of the sticky glaze. Tender steamed broccoli with soy and ginger proved to be a good counterpart to the richness of the dish, although I do think that Dh30 is rather a lot to charge for this.
While a meal here isn't exactly cheap, I do think that it's reliable. What I like about The Noodle House is that it will change or make additions to its menu relatively regularly (it's currently running a Chinese New Year promotion) and rather than simply being a fast-food or takeaway spot that churns out generic dishes, there does seem to be thought behind them.
I'm not saying that it's the best or most authentic place in the region for this - far from it. Just that it offers accessible, family-friendly service with generally reasonably priced dishes.
A meal for two at The Noodle House, The Dubai Mall costs Dh255. Call 04 388 4825. Reviewed meals are paid for by The National and all reviews are conducted incognito
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