Then, when writing this post, I had the biggest mindfuck of my life when I found Chinese Noodle House, another Northern Chinese restaurant in the same area of Prince Centre. The style of their signs are identical (1 & 2, from David Ding), they both have plastic grape vines on their ceiling and the same bucolic tapestries on their walls (1 & 2) and they serve near identical dishes (1 & 2). I'm pretty sure they use the same plates too. Major confusion ensues on my behalf (Are they the same place? They must be the same place. No they're not! Where the hell did I eat?). After some heavy online research and scrutiny of their decor (because I have nothing better to do with my time), I came to the conclusion that place I went with M and H was Chinese Noodle Restaurant (vines and bunches of plastic grapes hanging from ceiling, situated next to Menya) while the place I went with Z and E was Chinese Noodle House (vines and red lanterns hanging from the ceiling, situated next to a fish shop). Now that's sorted out, onto the food.
TL;DR there are two restaurants that look the same and taste the same in the same place with almost the same name, which confused me excessively.
Pork and Chive Steamed Dumplings
Trust the only Asian at the table when she says steamed is best. Boiled is cheaper but it can ruin the wrapping, pan-fried may be deliciously oily but you'll get fat and die. No, we must get our pork and chive dumplings steamed, I said. And they were perfect. Juicy pork mince encased in soft and non-soggy wrappers, as good as you can get.
Salt and Pepper Squid
Okay, okay so maybe I just lied and you won't get fat and die if you have pan-fried dumplings, but I have a feeling it would be a possibility if every dish we ordered had been fried. Take for example, this golden mound of deep-fried joy known as salt and pepper squid. I know, I can have it anywhere, and it's not particularly northern Chinese, but I can never resist ordering it when I see it on a menu. The salt and pepper comes on the side so you can control the amount of seasoning. I like my squid with lots of salt, lots of pepper, and lots of clogged arteries. Worth it.
Special Braised Eggplant
I have a confession to make... I don't eat vegetables. I have an aversion to the consumption of plants. This is probably why I have trouble understanding vegans. But eggplant, man oh man do I have a soft spot for eggplant. And fried crisp on the outside and deliciously soft on the inside and braised in a sweet, soy sauce? Uhh yes please. I eat the majority of our table's portion of the special braised eggplant.
Beef Stir-fried Handmade Noodles
The beef stir-fried noodles was Zac's selection and am I glad he made it. This was the hands-down best stir-fry I've had for as long as I can remember. The handmade noodles are simply fantastic. You're just going to have to go try it yourself!
Okay so, after waxing lyrical about Chinese Noodle House, I feel somewhat guilty that I have very little say about Chinese Noodle Restaurant, due to the fact that I went there over half a year ago and I have the memory span of a goldfish. I realise there is heavy competition between the two eateries due to their similarities and this is post is not saying that one is better than the other. I am not a critic and I have no bias, it's just that I've tried more dishes at the first place and the dumplings more or less are of the same calibre.
Pork and Cabbage Dumplings
You can't really go wrong with good old pork and cabbage dumplings. I grew up eating this exact thing (albiet the Shanghainese version) and these ones were pretty damn good. Chewy wrapper, and a good balance of meat and vegetable in the filling. You can get these dumplings steamed or pan-fried too but we were poor and unemployed at the time.
These were actually meant to be Melanion's, but after he ate most of my pork dumplings, I had to finish these off. Lamb isn't my favourite meat and chilli is definitely not my forte but these spicy lamb dumplings were surprisingly alright for me.
Pan-fried Mini Pork Buns
Hugh's choice of pan-fried mini pork buns (shengjian mantou) was a treat. Juicy, soupy filling encased in fried, golden dough. Growing up, the outside was always my favourite part of baozi, I remember as a child I'd always bite a hole in these, dump out the meat filling and eat the fried wrapper. Heh. This place was a cheap fare too, from what I remember I think we paid about $5 each. Lunch with spare coins? Bargain.
Chinese Noodle House
Shop TG2, 8 Quay St, Haymarket 2000
Telephone: (02) 9281 4508
Chinese Noodle Resturant
Shop 7, 8 Quay St, Haymarket 2000
Telephone: (02) 9281 9051