Noodles. I can’t get enough of them. Thick ones, thin ones, flat ones, round ones, egg ones, rice ones, noodles with soup, fried noodles, instant ones, hand pulled ones. Noodles in any form make me happy. There’s nothing more guaranteed to drag a smile out of my dour fizzog than a whopping great big bowl of steaming noodles. I can’t be any clearer. Even the worst noodles I’ve ever had were redeemed in some small way by the fact that, for all their faults, they were still noodles. To summarise: I like noodles.
And it’s an exciting time to be a noodlist in Glasgow. The city has finally cottoned on to the fact that enormous bowls of savoury, noodley broth are an excellent idea in a place that practically invented drizzle. Ramen joints are appearing with regularity, creating an embarrassment of riches for the devoted noodle fan. But as tasty as the ramen revolution might be, it’s not really about the noodles. Complex soups and adornments ranging from pork belly to marinated egg provide the substance of your typical ramen bowl. But the noodles? Usually the instant variety, added for some carby filler. And I think that perfectly illustrates the difference between Japanese ramen, and the Chinese soup bowls served up at Lanzhou Beef Noodle, aka Noodle.
The restaurant is a small, sparsely furnished café-style hole in the wall. The open kitchen to the rear allows you to see the chef hand-making your noodles to order. Yes, really. The menu is reassuringly compact with a few different broth options, a curious diced chicken and black bean dish that’s served cold, as well as a smattering of fried noodle dishes. There are other more exotic sounding items in the “Chef’s Recommendations” section including shredded chilli tripe(!) and roasted five spice lamb ribs. There’s also a small salad buffet in the chill cabinet.
I was flying solo this week so it was a good excuse to make a pig of myself. I ordered the sliced beef shin in broth along with an order of house made pork dumplings. Their noodle bowls come with either long, thick noodles (think something like udon) or a short, flat variety, made by flicking a sharp knife along the edge of a block of noodle dough. Opting for the former I took a stool at the window overlooking Bath St. In no time at all a glorious steaming cauldron of thick, white noodles topped with sliced beef shin appeared in front of me. Individually everything was great: the broth was clean and tasty, the beef shin was tender and the noodles had a perfect bite to them. Combine these into a single bite (or slurp) and it was damn near perfection. There were other surprises in the depths as well. Thinly shaved daikon and preserved Chinese radish provided great texture while a sprinkling of coriander and spring onion freshened things up. I added a couple of dabs of the house chili oil to my soup for a bit of fire. Be warned, it’s hot.
One dish doesn’t make for much of a review, so on your behalf I also had a side of house-made pork dumplings. The sacrifice was worth it. I’ve eaten a dumpling or two (R.I.P. Dumpling Inn) and these were among the best steamed dumplings I’ve ever had. A thicker wrapper gave them a satisfying chew while the pork filling was well-seasoned with a slight sesame flavour. They were ridiculously tasty, so much so that I ate every single one and there were 10 of them. At £6.50 for an order of 10 this would have been a decent enough lunch on its own, but accompanied by a giant noodle bowl I practically rolled back down the hill to the office.
I don’t often beg people to eat somewhere but I’ll make a special case here. We lost Dumpling Inn last year through lack of interest. It was never a place in which you’d linger after the plates were cleared, but they served incredible, authentic food. I still crave their dumplings and spicy pork noodles. But it closed down, while 30 yards away Nando’s continued to pack them in. Noodle is a similarly humble sort of place. The choice is simple: if you love this kind of food you need to eat here or risk losing it.
The bill came to £14, but in truth I could have had half the food I did and still walked away completely satisfied. Drop everything and go now.
98 Bath Street
0141 353 1889
Phenomenal handmade noodles