Thursday, July 9, 2009

Shanghai Noodle House

Shanghai Noodle House
Shop 13/ 341 Mains Rd, Sunnybank

Of late, I've been getting quite 'reflective' about eating out. I sat down and had a big think about all the restaurants I've been to and what experiences I enjoy the most. The thing is, it's not always the super expensive, fine-dining moments that leave a lasting impression. Well, that's not exactly my point. I think that fine dining IS an experience in itself - not just about the food but also the ambiance, service, presentation and the list goes on. However, once I've had the experience, I don't necessarily feel the urge to relive it.

This contrasts greatly with any good experience I have at an eatery. It's a fact of life that most of our meals aren't going to be grand and spectacular affairs. After an uneventful, average day, I tend to feel like a home style, hearty and inexpensive meal. Enter: reliable eateries.

There are a handful of restaurants that I circulate through for my basic food needs. That's not to say they're of LOW STANDARDS. No way! I don't settle for low standards. I'm talking about casual and cheap but great at what they do. If an eatery impresses me, I'm going to be their life-long friend.

I must say now that even eatery experiences aren't 100% consistent. You might enjoy a meal more or less depending on what you order, the politeness of the staff, the weather, the car you're driving, whatever. Even with my 'go to' eateries, I've been through the ups and downs. Once it gets 'down' below a certain level of acceptance, I'm never going back. Similarly, I might have written off some place as 'terrible' but get forced into a good experience there that changes my impression of them.

Lunch box with sweet and sour ribs and pork meatball

With Shanghai Noodle House, my family have followed their business over many years. We were frequent customers at their branch opposite the QE2 but then they relocated to Sunnybank, Market Square. I have a feeling that the Shanghai Noodle House in the Myer Center (Brisbane CBD) was/is owned by the same people but their menus are different.

We had eaten at the Market Square Shanghai Noodle House a few times - my parents would buy dishes take away to eat during the week (saves them from cooking). The consensus is that the 'tastes' and 'flavors' are very compatible with what we're used to. We're Shanghainese so that makes sense.

Lunch box with stir-fried pork strips in special sauce and pork meatball

However, the recent few times I've been to Shanghai Noodle House, I've been REALLY satisfied. Maybe it's because I've moved out of home and am deeply craving home style Chinese food. Maybe it's because I've been eating at too many expensive restaurants and the notion of a meal under $10 seems crazily cheap to me. Who knows? Who cares. The point is that I'm ecstatic about this eatery and it's elevated itself to the top of my 'go to' list.

Lunch box with stir-fried pork in special sauce and spicy fried chicken

My favorite concept at Shanghai Noodle House is their lunch specials. For around $10, you get rice, soup, 3 sides plus 2 'mains' from a list. Now, these are all small portions, not individual dishes. Combined, it's a bit like a bento box but so good because there's just so much STUFF. One lunch box is nearly enough to feed 2 small people (e.g. people like me hehe).

Scattered throughout this post are various lunch boxes that I've tasted over the past couple of weeks. My favorite 'mains' include the meatball (in Chinese, it's called tiger head meatballs), which are just so tender and delicious, and the stir-fried pork with special sauce. Great flavors. I think the sides are fabulous too. Like I say, it's typical home cooking but effortless and the taste is spot on.

Pan-fried buns

Once, Charlie and I ordered the pan-fried buns. They were a lot bigger than I thought but definitely seemed hand made (as opposed to factory-made and frozen). The buns were quite oily and thick-skinned (which are the flaws) but still tasted really good. I would have liked more of a 'soup' inside though - that's the best part of a meat bun!

Soup dumplings

I've also had soup dumplings from Shanghai Noodle House. Dumplings are more of a Northern Chinese thing so it's not traditionally Shanghainese but these were quite good.

Inside of dumpling

They had soup inside and tasted very simple and clean. It's the kind of food you can eat everyday without getting sick of it (that's the case for me anyway).

Savory pork porridge

Mum once ordered a simple savory porridge with pork. When I say porridge, I mean rice porridge, not oat porridge. Again, it was really simple but went down great. I was freezing that day and the porridge warmed me up a treat. This is my idea of comfort food.

Shanghai Noodle House has proven to be consistent with delivering satisfying food fast. The service is no-fuss but efficient. The restaurant is small and feels like a cafeteria but you sure aren't going there for ambiance. It's traditional Chinese food that we all have at home but the great thing is: no cooking and no dishes to wash.


  1. you have to try one of their dessert next time it's like deep fried mochi with red bean paste in it. sooooooooo good i always get it SO GOOD!!

  2. Thanks Cora for your appreciation of my parents' restaurants :) I'm sure I have seen you around before.