REVIEW: The Noodle House
Like all established and popular brands, there is something reassuring about a meal in The Noodle House, a home-grown UAE restaurant chain with seven outlets now in the UAE – most of which occupy positions in premium retail and leisure clusters. It’s casual dining, yes, but with a consistent quality that has always elevated it above its price-point peers. They’re not selling you an experience here, just a guarantee of a very good meal that pleases most tastes; we’ve not encountered many people who don’t enjoy something from a Thai or Chinese menu.
It is, remarkably, 15 years since the first Noodle House opened in Jumeirah Emirates Towers, placing it firmly in the “veteran” category of UAE dining brands, and it is currently undergoing a bit of a refresh – a new menu, an interior overhaul, a general upgrade and perhaps a slight repositioning, too. We were invited to sample the results of these efforts’ first manifestation in Madinat Jumeirah, perhaps the one outlet most of us have tried.
There is a sort of smart new hotel crispness to the decor now, with plenty of teak screens and tasteful ephemera that help sub-divide the space. It also feels there’s greater room between the tables, making this more of a restaurant than an in-and-out dining-room that never really suited the nature of Madinat Jumeirah.
The food, though, is the principal reason we’re here. The compact and confident new menu comes in six sections: For the Table (starters, essentially, with edamame, wasabi prawns and the like), Crispy Duck, Wet Noodles (ramen and soba), Wok Noodles (pad thai and Singapore), Street (satay and buns) and Umami – an entire list of savoury mains devoted to that mystical “fifth taste” contained in foods high in glutamic acid. More on that later. There are also two dessert sections and a healthy beverage menu that reflects the fact the premises is now fully licensed.
Cruising around the different areas, and taking direction from the waiter, we start with an excellent crispy roast duck Singapore style, whose sweet, succulent meat is tender and generous without the biltong-like dry shredding you find on many interpretations, some prodigious prawn satay skewers that really could have been a main course, and a portion of what they call here Pot Stickers, which are gyozas basically, although the casing was a touch on the doughy side for our tastes.
The meal’s highlights, though, came from that “Umami” section, which houses all the popular Asian classics such as sweet and sour chicken (or prawn), green curry and Thai chicken with cashew nuts. We plumped for the black pepper beef, which frankly everyone should. Deep, tangy, spicy and deliciously gelatinous, we might have licked the plate clean in an emptier restaurant. We were able to taste the orange-glazed beef short rib, too, and probably would add that to the “next time” list.
A word on the drinks, which come in the form of giant crushed iced smoothies with bamboo shoot straws. We especially liked the sharp sweetness of the Guangoon Crush, a medley of strawberries, lychees and cranberry.
All in all, it’s nice to see an old friend looking in such rude health. The makeover has certainly added new pep but underneath it’s still the same warm, generous soul you’ve come to know over all these years.
Three dishes to try...
Quarter crispy roast duck Singapore style
You can’t not order it, can you? We could live off this stuff quite happily.
Black pepper beef
Highlight of the meal. One serving might not be enough.
Beef short rib
A sweet sticky mess you’ll want to keep diving into.
The Noodle House
Where: Souk Madinat Jumeirah
Contact: +971 4 366 6730, website
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