I got my first review request for Canberra and was very excited, the ASIAN NOODLE HOUSE in Belconnen was keen for Spooning to come in and try out the venue, the food, the atmosphere and share thoughts and pics. Luckily a work issue arose and I needed to head to the Capital for a one night flyby and Asian Noodle House was able to fit me in. My regular Canberra dinner guests, The Schmollinghams, were split for the evening so I was lucky enough for the company of Mrs Schmollingham and the two of us trotted off with wine and camera in hand.
The Asian Noodle House is a collection of restaurants in Canberra, from what I learned it is franchise based (adhering to uniform flavours) and there are four in total, Civic, Tuggeranong, Woden and now Belconnen. The Belconnen venue is located opposite the water-side entry to the Westfield Belconnen Car Park and sits across the road from Ginninderra Creek. I went back the following morning as I wanted to see what the place looked like in the day time, and it is stunning. Peaceful and with a beautiful view. While Cate and I were there for dinner (5-930pm service) the venue is also open for lunch from 11am-230pm – on my next ACT visit I will definitely visit again for lunch, I would love to sit and eat the Jumbo Laksa while looking over the creek.
The venue sits nestled under apartments with a couple of other dining venues nearby and the area all seems new and in true Canberra style, organised and clean. The inside of the venue is simple and where we sat brightly lit, I chose the brightest seat for better pictures. It is comfortable, friendly and quite plain but modern on the inside. It was a Thursday night we attended and it got busy, a few couples, a few families and a table of friends. Everyone was happy with where they were and the staff were quiet, efficient and there when you needed them.
The venue features healthy, bountiful bowls with the bold flavors of Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, China and Laos.
For our meal as we were invited I told them to cook for us what would look good and what they wanted to show off. Everything was selected for us, probably enough for four people but somehow Cate and I managed :). We started with the Mixed Entree for $11-. This features two of each: spring rolls, fish cakes and curry puffs. The spring rolls were nice and crispy and the curry puffs were fluffy and flavoursome, we both agreed the fish cakes were very standard, something that I commented on that appears to be standard everywhere now, they were sufficient but did not stand out. We both loved the Rice Paper Rolls $6- for 2. It says Rice Paper Cold Spring Rolls on the menu but ours came out warm on the inside and this was the standout and what we both pointed out. They were fresh and each of the flavours were distinct. I could have had lots more of these.
Then it started to get real, we got delivered the Massaman Beef Curry with Potato $16.50 and Jumbo Laksa (combination and seafood) $15.50 with a thermos-like cute, retro rice holder – I loved it, wanted one for home :). The Massaman Beef is a new dish. It was a good mid-range Massaman; beef and potato fell apart as it should and I went back for more helpings.
The Laksa is what I would have found to be their signature dish from the meals we ate. It was massive and it was bloody superb – no other way to describe it, I want it again, one of the better laksas I have had in recent years and the flavours were delicate and combined well, the noodles perfect and the meat to noodle ratio was on game.
The Chilli Basil Beef $15.50 was also delicious, this isn’t one I would have chosen to order but I loved it, this is one I would order as a takeaway dish for home, it is balanced with meat and vegetables and it has that nice chilli kick. I should mention the menu is HUGE. They offer food selections split into sections on the menu: Thai dishes, Lao dishes, Chinese dishes, rice dishes, veggie dishes, Wok fried noodle dishes, noodle soups and so on. On my next trip I desire a duck night – I want Steam Duck Noodle Soup, Crispy Duck with Plum Sauce and won’t say no to Roast Duck Rice – drooling in anticipation here!! Schmollinghams – be warned!
And just when we had a breather, I thought we would be offered a little bit of ice cream and a coffee. Nay nay, Wyn Vo (the chef and joint owner) was determined to make me fatter and started with this slimming Nutella Shake $5.50 with a piccolo stick stuffed in it. It was NUTELLA – what were we to do? Cate and I polished this delight off in next to no time.
Then out came one of the coolest, most retro dishes I have seen this century and I/ we just LOVED IT. Deep Fried Ice Cream (available in 3 toppings: chocolate, caramel, or strawberry) $5-. We went the strawberry and it was a sweetness joy that had me climbing the walls in a rush of endorphins. And cocktail umbrellas – the most under-utilised piece of food decor of all time. Bring back the 60s, 70s and 80s – these things are gold, it looked like a little scene on a beach and we had to gobble it up. This one will be a HUGE favourite with kids, but don’t give it to them too late, or like Gremlins they will turn into satanic monsters that will destroy your life :).
And for the more refined diner that doesn’t want umbrellas with their dessert, may I recommend the Frangelico Hazelnut pudding with butterscotch sauce $5-. It was beautiful, it comes across very much like a sticky date pudding but with some differing flavours. We got through it, because, well we had to, it was our duty haha. It was a struggle, we had eaten so much food and I literally walked out leaning my back backwards to balance the belly and stop me from falling forward.
Wyn and her partner run an exceptional Asian venue. It is not the epitome of culinary brilliance that will have TV shows and cookbooks made about it but it is that comforting Asian restaurant to go to for lunch or dinner that will be dependant, efficient and clean with great food and great staff that will see you eating there as a regular while the kids grow up and beyond. And the bonus, you get great portions and it will not break the bank. I will definitely be back.
Huge thanks to the people at Asian Noodle House from Cate and myself, we had a fantastic time!