Nong Tang Noodle House is Melbourne’s best kept secret as the only place in the city serving authentic Shanghainese noodles.
Noodles are a staple food for so many of us, from the frugal university student living off ramen to the family eating Singapore noodles for take-away each Friday night. Nong Tang Noodle House, nestled in Mid City Arcade in Melbourne, takes the humble bowl of noodles to a whole new level.
Upon approaching Nong Tang Noodle House, relaxing jazz music can be heard from the unassuming venue. White subway tiles tastefully contrast with pops of red traditional Chinese decoration and photos from Shanghai.
Nong Tangs are central hubs within Shanghai villages, where locals gather to eat, drink, relax and socialise. In keeping with this spirit, as you step into Nong Tang Noodle House, the feeling of community and comfort feels just like you are going back home for a family lunch.
The one-year-old family-owned restaurant is run by David Yang and his mother. Using recipes passed down for five generations, the food is reminiscent of home-cooked dishes in Shanghai, which David’s mother cooked for him while growing up.
Head chef at Nong Tang Noodle House, Alex Ma, brings 16 years of experience with him, having previously been executive chef at 5-star Shanghai hotel the Wyndham Hotel and Resort, and at the Hilton Hotel in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.
Start with the pork and prawn wontons in chilli oil, which have just the right amount of spiciness. The juicy traditional pan-fried pork dumplings are made in-house by hand, with a special sauce used in the filling. And make sure you try one of David’s favourites, the Xiao Long Bao which are scrumptious steamed parcels that you will no doubt enjoy.
The must-try at Nong Tang Noodle House are, of course, the authentic ‘Yang Chun’ noodles, that can’t be found anywhere else in Melbourne. The kitchen team experimented with more than 20 types of flour before choosing three to make their signature noodles. The unique texture and taste of these noodles was like nothing I’ve tried before, tempting me to devour another bowl. The noodles are served dry or in a soup, with a variety of toppings and side dishes.
David’s passion for Shanghainese food is clearly evident, even by the simple way he showed us how to mix the dry noodles to perfectly incorporate the sauce and toppings.
Spoilt with options for side dishes and toppings, you’ll have a hard time deciding which ones to try. The pork meatball in soy sauce will literally melt-in-your-mouth. Just as mouth-watering, the salted chicken Maryland and duck Maryland in soy sauce are succulent and tasty.
The eight treasures – which, as the name suggests, features eight main ingredients – was an ideal topping for the dry noodles. Looking at my dining companions’ bowls demonstrated that everyone’s choice of toppings were creatively personalised, exemplifying the Shanghai way of adding different flavours to complement the noodles, just the way you like it.
If I were you, I’d try Nong Tang Noodle House soon. It won’t be Melbourne’s best kept secret for long!