Oodles of noodles at all-new noodles

Friday, 18 July 2014 00:02 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Marianne David Walking into the Cinnamon Grand’s newest restaurant Noodles, the first thing to catch the eye is the display of baskets filled with many varieties of noodles laid out on the counter – who knew there were so many!? A look at the menu shows that not only does the restaurant serve up dishes made from 10 types of noodles – Chinese egg noodles, rice vermicelli, udon, ramen, soba, vegetable noodles, sweet potato noodles, egg noodles, fresh rice noodles and samba noodles – it also boasts over 70 interesting dishes inspired by cuisine from Vietnam, Japan, China, Thailand and Malaysia. Expanding the hotel’s restaurant portfolio to 14, Noodles is – surprise! – all about noodle-based Asian cuisine, although the menu features several rice dishes as well. Diners will also be pleasantly surprised by the prices (listed below), which are a lot easier on the wallet than you would expect at a top-notch city hotel like the Cinnamon Grand. Appetisers and salads Sitting down to dine, we were hard-pressed to choose from among the many kinds of appetisers (14 in all plus 10 salads) that were served up, with the crispy lobster ravioli (lobster meat wrapped in wonton skin served with coconut sauce) and the salt and pepper calamari (deep fried calamari tossed in salt, pepper, garlic, spring onions and served with sweet chilli sauce) standing out as exceptional offerings. The Vietnamese nest spring rolls (crab meat, shrimp, belly of pork and vegetables wrapped in nest rice paper, deep fried and served with fish sauce) were not too far behind, while we also found room for a selection of chicken and vegetable dumplings and steamed black shitake mushrooms with pork. Stuffed on appetisers, we passed on the salads, but salad lovers won’t be disappointed here, with Noodles serving up several options. There’s Asian seafood salad and belly of pork with banana blossom salad to ginger beef and coriander salad, crab stick salad in cucumber wrap and several more choices in between. Substantial soups Once we were done with the delicious appetisers, it was time for soup, at which point we were given tabs to help us in making our selections. The tab menu features pictures of every dish, enabling diners to take a look at the options before making a choice. Flipping through the pictures, I decided on the Vietnamese Crab Rice Noodle Soup (rice noodles, crab meat, tomato, tofu and tamarind cooked in prawn stock) while my dining companions chose Chirichikinrmen No Spu (ramen noodles, chicken, mushroom, tofu and spring onion, cooked in chicken stock; topped with a fried egg) and Ebi To Yasai No Yaki Bifun (rice noodles with prawns, green beans and spinach cooked in spicy coconut and lemongrass broth). To my dismay, the crab soup was quite bland and adding chillie paste didn’t make much of an improvement, but the other two which I tasted were very good. Noodles serves up 16 kinds of soup, each of which can be considered a meal in itself, being quite substantial. Appetisers and salads are in the Rs. 350 to Rs. 950 range, while soups are in the Rs. 350 to Rs. 1,200 range. However, the majority of the appetisers, salads and soups are priced between Rs. 450 and Rs. 650. Mains aplenty When the mains came, I was really glad I hadn’t filled myself up with soup. With 15 noodle dishes on offer, it wasn’t an easy choice to make, but given that my craving for crab wasn’t satisfied by the soup, I picked the Min Xào Cua (Vietnamese sautéed glass noodles with crab meat, carrots, black fungus, bean sprouts, bokchoy and egg). This dish was nothing short of superb – packed with flavour, fresh and crisp – and I found it completely satisfying. My only regret was that I couldn’t finish it after all the starters we’d already tucked into and also given the generous size of the serving. Other interesting noodle dishes on the menu that caught my eye were Amai Udon (udon noodles wok fried with seafood, garnished with tamarind sauce), Gong BaoJi Ding Mian (Kung Pao chicken with egg noodles), Mee Goreng (egg noodles sautéed with chicken, shrimp, tofu, egg and chilli sauce) and Roast Pork Tebasaki (sliced belly of pork served with Wansui noodles). Around 10 of the noodles dishes are priced at Rs. 650 and only a handful cost more, the most expensive being Rs. 1,000. Rice options, priced from Rs. 450 upwards with most options at Rs. 650, include Pad Ped Kai Takrai (spicy lemongrass chicken with sticky rice), Sakana Fry (crispy fish Katsu Kune, crumb fried modha served with sweet and sour vegetables and sticky rice) and Xiè Fàn (crab rice). In addition to the mains, there are four accompaniments, within the Rs. 400 to Rs. 450 price range: Baby Bok Choy with Dried Shrimp, Sautéed Mixed Vegetable with Oyster Sauce, Sautéed Ladies Fingers with Samba Sauce and Sautéed Morning Glory. Divine desserts To top it all off, there are 10 desserts. While my choice was made the moment I spotted the Molten Dark Chocolate Lava Cake on the menu (warm chocolate cake centred with molten chocolate lava, topped with thick strawberry sauce accompanied by caramel ice cream), my dining companions chose Green Tea Ice Cream with Pistachio and the Lime Tart, with the latter being rather disappointing when I took a bite. The lava cake was absolutely delicious and paired with the yummy caramel ice cream, this dessert option was nothing short of divine. If only the two were served in little bowls instead of a flat platter so that all the melted ice cream and chocolate lava wouldn’t go to waste! Next time I go to Noodles, from the dessert menu I’ve decided to also try the Nashi Pear – an anise poached Nashi pear in warm sake and chocolate sauce, which seems promising. Nine of the 10 desserts are priced at Rs. 350 while the Molten Dark Chocolate Lava Cake is Rs. 450. Experts at the helm The Chef de Cuisine at the new restaurant is expert Vietnamese Chef Tran Ba Giang, who has over 12 years of experience to his credit and his most recent assignment being at Shangri La Dubai, while the Cinnamon Grand’s Thai Chef Thananchai Yotngam – with over 20 years of experience – is also lending his expertise in serving up tantalising Thai dishes. Noodles is a 50-seater restaurant open for dinner from 6:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. For reservations: 011-2497361/62. Pix by Sameera Wijesinghe