A study of South Asian cuisine at Noodle Bar

Best kind of dates are those that are unplanned. It was one such impromptu call from my friend that took us to Noodle Bar on a sultry summer afternoon in Phoenix Market City in Chennai.  

As you enter the restaurant, you will be greeted by a statue of Buddha. The seating area and surroundings are mostly decorated in the shades of red and dark brown. Since it was a working day there were barely two or three seats full. We liked it.

When a waiter, dressed in red shirt and black pants, handed us the menu we were not sure what to expect. Rating in Zomato was 3.8 with wide range of South Asian cuisine to choose from like Chinese, Thai, Indonesian, Burmese and Japanese. The menu had options one would expect – fried rice and noodles with meat, seafood and vegetable side dishes not to mention plenty of options for sui mai (dim sums). There were set meals too that included dim sums, soup and rice/noodles of your choice. We went for alacarte as she had 15 per cent off coupons for dining at Noodle Bar and it did not include set meals.

First thing we ordered was vegetable sui mai stuffed with carrot, mushroom,zucchini and celery. For the main dish we ordered vegetarian version of Burmese Kaukswe, which we uttered in unison and Singaporean Hokomein noodles with vegetable side dish. We placed an order for lemon iced tea and litchi mocktail for drinks. 

What is Burmese Kaukswe and what exactly was it made of? Since it was my favourite I decided to learn about it a bit. The dish, originally spelt Ohn no khao swè, consisting of wheat noodles and curry made in coconut milk broth. The dish is garnished with sliced bean fritters, raw onions and lemon. The curry is traditionally made using chicken. But the one offered in the restaurant had vegetable base.

Hokomein noodles or rather Hokkien mee has its origin in China’s Hokkien province. Primarily made of prawn, it is stir-fried egg or rice noodles made from shrimp or prawn stock and served hot and spicy with garnishing like leafy greens, pork ribs, squid, crisp deep-fried shallots, spring onions and fresh lime. The dish is served with sliced red chili, light soy sauce and sambal.

Apparently the dish was created after World War II by Chinese sailors from Hokkien province in Southern China, who fried excess noodles from factories over charcoal stove. The one we had was obviously a dumbed-down version where we were served stir-fried rice noodles and vegetable stock separately and we had to mix both. No one wants explanation about Chinese dumplings sui mai. The famous dish is made of thin outer layer traditionally made of thin sheet of lye water dough and garnished with varieties of vegetables and meat, served hot.

The dishes we ordered tasted as good as it sounds though all of them were vegetarian dishes, probably designed for Indian audience.

Dim sum was served in a wooden thermal box, like how they are traditionally served. You could actually see the smoke coming out as the waiter opened it and also the aroma of vegetables along with the wonton skin. It melted in our mouths. Singaporean hokomein noodles was good too but what I liked about it was its accompaniment. Burmese Kaukswe definitely stole the show with its rich coconut broth and veggies, yet distinctly different from that of Thai curries. It was rich but not spicy, a little sweet and crunchy due the bean fritters with lemon adding a little tanginess.

Sui mai stuffed with carrot, mushroom,zucchini and celery
Singaporean Hokomein noodles with vegetable side dish
Burmese Kaukswe: Wheat noodle accompanied by curry made from coconut milk base and vegetables
That is how Burmese Kaukswe looks after mixing

If I were to visit the place again, I’m sure to order Burmese Kaukswe again!

After the elaborate meal, we came out of the restaurant full, contented and a little drowsy, the best indicator of having good food.

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