Street theatre - statue people, pan pipers, pavement chalk artists and now, noodle makers!
Noodle Kingdom, originally of Preston, is probably best known for its handmade noodles. In late 2010, their Russell Street store was slammed with an enormous fine for multiple food safety breaches. Undaunted (and hopefully with some better food handling practices and/or more monitoring), they have remodelled Swanston Street's Chinatown Dumpling Restaurant into a reportedly six-storey pagoda paying homage to floury delights.
The dining room is far removed from other function-over-fancy establishments. A banquette lines one wall, making for comfy reclining. High above the room at the bank, a dumpling maker in pressed white hat watches benevolently over the room full of marble tables, lit by lantern-like lights.
Chicken, prawn and pork dumplings, $6
These look the business but golly, what thick skins. They were thick to the point that the dumplings almost seemed like buns - we're talking half a centimetre thick here. The filling was tasty but not all that juicy.
Dry-fried french bean, $14.80
These were all right, not the best I've had. The mince was quite coarse and there was little flavour other than soy sauce. Vegetarians, always beware this dish as the menu description rarely mentions the pork mince it is flavoured with and it's often filed under "Vegetables".
Stir-fried chicken with nuts and veg (hand-made broad noodle base), $16.80
My sister had gone here with a group of about 10 and everyone unanimously agreed her choice, above, was the best. Say no more! This was indeed pretty unreal. The noodles were fantastic, wide and flat like fettuccine, with unparalleled al dente bite and seductive slipperiness. I think the chicken chunks were deep fried. Peanuts gave lots of fabulous crunch and we loved the mild heat of the fat red chillies. Moistened with a little soy, it was a great dish.
So far, the noodles are the drawcard here for me. There are many different shapes and styles to try, including in their beef noodle soup which is apparently a specialty. The decor is quite lovely (although the toilets were filthy) and big points for Mountain Goat and Little Creatures beers on offer. With Noodle Kingdom opposite the fantastic Dumplings Plus and the buzzing Taiwan Cafe, Asian food on Swanston Street is starting to get exciting!
P.S. Sooper-dooper new comment system now installed where I can reply to your comment in a "thread" so no more of that cumbersome "Bob - yes! Sarah - absolutely!" old Blogger style replying. You can also sign in with Facebook and Twitter. (If you log in via Facebook, click "Don't Allow" when it says Footscray Food Blog wants permission to post as you. I don't want that at all but don't know how to disable it!!)
UPDATE: Had to uninstall less than sooper-dooper comment system - it flicks back to Blogger comments occasionally it seems and if someone comments through that, it deletes all the new comments in the new system. *sigh* Hopefully I can find another program that's more consistent.
264 Swanston Street, Melbourne
Phone: 9650 1818
Hours: Daily lunch and dinner
View Footscrayfoodblog reviews in a larger map