The Noodle House is one of those Galway city eateries that seem to have built up a very, very, loyal set of customers, and many ex college students make it their first port of call when returning to Galway for a visit. If you are one of those who has not eaten there or indeed are wondering if it only serves noodles, I think I can whet your appetite and entice you to visit.
It was opened in 1997 by a native of Lanzhou in north-central China. This is the region where noodles are the staple diet, as opposed to rice, which most of us associate with China. There are all types of noodles on offer — soft noodles, stir fried noodles, noodles in soup, and noodles in sauce, and interestingly for those with a wheat allergy, they serve a potato noodle which I sampled and is delicious. It is a clear noodle and works great in the hot pot dish or any soup dish. However, do not be under the impression that everything is noodle based. Du Han Tuo, proprietor and chef, cooks all kinds of Chinese dishes (without any MSG ) like roast duck, fresh tofu, spare ribs, bean curd, lamb kebabs, dumplings, and the dish I want to write about, hot pot.
Before I get into the hot pot delights it is well worth mentioning that the wine list is possibly the only 100 per cent organic wine list in the west of Ireland. Prices are reasonable, from €19.50 to €24 per bottle. You can also have some sake at €5.50 for a small flask. Needless to say there several teas available: green teas, jasmine teas, and oolong teas.
The hot pot, as pictured, is a fantastic way to spend an evening with a friend, or indeed several friends. I would recommend it as a great way to have a Christmas party for between 10 and 20 people. It is a form of fondue, and the centre piece is a boiling pot of broth which all the meats, shellfish, vegetables, tofu, noodles, etc, are cooked in. There are wire scoops provided to hold the food in the broth, and roughly one minute later they are ready to eat. The dipping sauce I sampled was a tahini with chives and garlic, but you can have a chilli sauce also. The meat can be lamb, beef, chicken, and the fish can be prawns or squid. Every kind of vegetable can be cooked this way but my favourite was the spinach and Chinese leaves. There were even slices of an Irish spud which cooked up lovely. The best part of the meal is at the end when everything has been cooked. You pour the broth into the bowls and drink up, be sure to leave room for this as it is delicious. It is a very satisfying dinner and it has the added benefit of a very clean after taste in your mouth. No greasy feeling, no MSG reactions, a great way to start an evening of revelry on Quay Street. The cost of the hot pot is €18 for one, €30 for two, and €40 for four people. It typically takes abut two hours for a party of people to finish a hot pot.
The best value from The Noodle House is the take away lunch box for €6.50; an example of the dishes available is roast duck in ginger and scallion with rice or noodles, or stir-fried tofu and vegetable with rice or noodle. For the month of October there will be a special offer of hot pot plus a glass of wine at €15 per person.
It is a great place for vegetarians to visit as they will be spoiled for choice. Lastly if you thought people who schlurped their bowl of soup and noodles were being rude then you are wrong — the reason you ‘schlurp’ is to oxygenate the broth, much the way a wine taster does with wine. This allows you to get all the flavours into your mouth. So call in to Da Tang Noodle House and schlurp your way to happiness.
Finally, I would like to welcome O’Brien’s Wine Shop to Galway; it is located across from Supermac’s at the rear entrance of the Galway Shopping Centre. The selection is superb, the staff are incredibly professional and helpful, and some of the opening wine offers are great. Try the Astrolabe Sauvignon Blanc. They also have a fantastic wine sampling machine that lets you help yourself to about eight to 10 different wines (for free ).