Harbouring a craving for some freshly made noodles, Marissa Carruthers and photographer Charles Fox grab a bite at Chilly Noodle House.
Being entertained while you eat is always a bonus, especially when the show on offer is a chef creating the noodles you’ve ordered from scratch. A few twists, pulls and stretches and, as if by magic, a lump of dough is suddenly transformed into strings of perfectly shaped noodles ready to be tossed into the pan.
It oozes confidence when you set up your kitchen on the street for all to see. The bold move, coupled with the noodle magic, pays off for Chilly Noodle House. Without the display it would be easy to walk past the unassuming eatery tucked away at the top end of Street 172, home to a smattering of small restaurants and guesthouses.
Simplicity is the key here and it works well. The small shop house boasts a handful of tables and minimal décor, with a few paintings of the Cambodian countryside adding a splash of colour to the walls. Other than that, it’s light, bright and breezy with a small room at the back offering chill-out sofas for those wanting to settle their stomachs before hitting the road.
The menu is surprisingly big and offers a range of noodle dishes, rice dishes, dumplings and Khmer offerings, all reasonably priced. Despite being tempted to try the fried broccoli with pork, we were there to eat the freshly hand-stretched noodles that were being carefully crafted in front of us.
Settling on fried pork dumplings ($2.50), fried noodles with beef ($2.50), chicken fried rice ($2.50) and fried cabbage with pork ($3), we watched as one of the chefs whistled up the noodles while the other chopped and sliced a bundle of greens to accompany our meal.
Service came with a smile and plates loaded with scrumptious smelling food quickly landed in front of us. With generous portions, there’s no chance of leaving hungry and my plate was piled high with soft noodles doused in soy sauce, succulent strips of beef that melted in the mouth, and a selection of vegetables.
Because of the small kitchen, each dish is cooked separately. The next to arrive was the fried cabbage, complete with healthy chunks of non-fatty pork. A blend of herbs gave a different burst of flavour with each bite.
A mountain of rice topped with a generous portion of strips of tender chicken was next on the menu. The rice was not too sticky or hard, with the mix of stir-fried vegetables remaining deliciously crunchy. Last up were the dumplings, which were as equally tantalising. Cooked to crisp perfection, the minced meat was complimented with a perfect blend of herbs. A small side serving of salad and a saucer of chopped garlic allowed diners to concoct their own spicy mix from the condiments on the table.
Full, we finished off our mango smoothies ($2) and left, promising to come back. There’s something satisfying about stumbling across a place where there’s no fuss, and the food is fresh, cheap and tastes good.