Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Noodlee fast emerging on the food scene in Cork.

Noodlee fast emerging 

on the food scene in Cork.

Beef Noodle

Great to get the opportunity to check out the food at rapidly expanding Noodlee the other evening. 

Noodlee is fast becoming known in the city and county. We dined at Noodlee UCC and they have another branch in Mahon. This month, restaurants are opening or have opened in Mallow, Carrigaline and Fermoy. Douglas, Ballincollig and Midleton will shortly see their newest stores open.  

An additional three stores are slated for Blackpool, Mayfield and Cobh, with discussions continuing for other locations. Oh, and it is not just in Ireland. They have also opened one in the UK, in Nottingham.

When I heard the name first, I thought it was an amalgam of noodles and Lee. But no.  Noodlee in Chinese culture means Chinese street food. Sunny Islam (left) is the company's Operations Manager and we met him the other night. He was keen to stress that Noodlee is more than a noodle bar – they offer an extensive array of Chinese dishes with vegan and vegetarian options available. 

And if you are in, do keep an eye out for the specials. They had three running last week and they included Chicken Zha Jiang for just a fiver!

Sunny was also very keen to let us know that their noodles are fresh and that that marks them out from other restaurants. The noodles are produced in a premises on Center Park Road. They are proud of their fresh noodles and that “you will always get the freshest tastiest meal” and that you’ll get it in double quick time, no contradiction here between fast food and good quality.

Besides, they support local. All their beef is 100% per cent Irish and their experienced Chinese chefs are helping train young Irish chefs.  

You often hear people talking about ethnic food saying that it is “dumbed down” for the Irish or European palate. Noodlee is of course conscious of this and their goal is to create Chinese food that is “as close as it gets” to the real thing. They are encouraged by feedback from their Asian customers “that it is 95% there”. 

So how does all this work out in practice? On an Irish palate? We would soon find out. The menu is extensive and comes under a number of headings. Under starters, you’ll find Chicken Yakitori and Steamed Edamame, a selection of Spring Rolls, and more. 

Singapore Noodle

Mains include Satay dishes, curries, stir-fries, Noodlee Specials and Set Meals. There are sides also of course, Vegan choices, and a few kids' meals, and drinks (all non-alcoholic).

We started with a Spring Roll, three pieces of crispy thin pastry rolled with chicken, carrots, green bean sprouts, green pepper and onions and served with a little tub of sweet chilli sauce.  A big thumbs up for that one, everything, the pastry and the filling and sauce just perfect,  the best Spring Rolls I’ve had in a long while.

Some of the mains allow choices of boiled rice or chips (fried rice for 60 cent extra) but we were keen to try the noddles and one of our picks was the Singapore Noodle with chicken and which consisted of the chicken, the stir-fried fresh noodles with eggs, onions, carrots, bean sprouts and scallions. This had a mild curry flavour, and the noodles certainly impressed as did the dish as a whole.

I hit the jackpot with my special, the Beef Pull Noodles with the in-house broth. Here the fresh white noodles stood out, especially as they absorbed the amazing broth. I was a little worried that the Pak Choi would be tough to eat but Asians seem to have a way with these and the Noodlee version was perfectly cooked and perfectly edible, both the green and white parts nicely crunchy and adding to the tender flavoursome meat. All in all, another winner on this wide-ranging menu.

So wide-ranging, one will have to return, maybe not to the Western Road venue (not that it would be a hardship) but to a Noodlee nearer home in Mayfield or Blackpool! Roll on Noodlee and roll out!

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