“ restaurant specializing in oriental cuisine „
Living in aylesbury, we visit our branch the most but have also been to both the high wycombe branch and the one in maidenhead, it's probably obvious then that we love the food. I guess they would say that it's a mixture of Thai and Chinese food but with a british kick. It's extremely affordable, with vouchers on their email alert service giving you money off in the week, kids also eat for free on a Sunday which is a bonus. The best bit about the chain for us is that once you order, your food is normally with you in about 8 minutes, which when you have two young children under 4, waiting for food is never great. I always choose the Singapore veggie noodles with seaweed and just like in wagamamas, your food can arrive at any time in any order. The only downside is sometimes your drinks arrive after your food which is not ideal but for the price it's not worth moaning. For christmas I bought gift vouchers from them, so that my partner can now go during his lunch break from work on one of those stressful days that we all have.
(This review is for the Oxford branch of Noodle Nation - the others all have identical menus but I haven't had a chance to visit them)
Noodle Nation (formerly Noodle Bar) is one of the most popular restaurants in central Oxford, to the extent that it is often difficult to get a table for more than about four people, even in the week. I would describe it as a 'fast' waiter service restaurant. In that you sit down, are served almost immediately, and can expect your food within about 10 minutes. I have been in and out in well under 45 minutes before.
The food style is a mixture of Chinese and Thai, and is supposedly influenced by the street vendors common in Chinese cities, from whom it would be possible to buy inexpensive, delicious, freshly cooked food in large portions. This is the ethos of Noodle Nation, and they do it very well. Their food is simple, and very very fresh. It is all flash cooked in a wok, so it arrives within minutes of ordering. The menu consists of about 30 side dishes (which come alongside your main meal), all of which are good but I particularly recommend the Salt and Pepper Squid or the Crispy Meat Dumplings. The mains are split into two sections, Noodle bar and Rice bar. For Noodle bar you select your meat or veg from a choice of about 8 (including pork, beef, king prawn, mixed vegetable and many more), and select your noodles (there are 4 types, but a description of each is given for the uninitiated). For Rice bar you chose a sauce (for example sweet and sour, chilli and garlic, or black bean), then your meat or vegetable, and finally whether you want it with steamed rice, egg fried rice, or one of the 4 varieties of noodle. The food is ALWAYS freshly cooked to order and I have always found to to be of exceptional quality.
The drinks menu includes a variety of soft drinks, Chinese lagers, and a couple of cheap wines, along with (of course) green or jasmine tea, which is supplied with free refills and is certainly good for stomach settling after too many noodles!
Price-wise, you can expect to pay around £5-£6 for a main, and between £1.50-£4 for a side. They offer a 10% discount for students and there is also a promotion which runs every day (including the weekend) from 3pm-6pm where you can get a bowl of noodles and a soft drink for £4.99, and add a side dish from a limited selection for 99p, which is truly exceptional value. On the whole, when me and my friends visit it tends to come to about £10 per head in the evening, which will usually include at least one side and a beer or soft drink each. The portions are absolutely enormous so you definitely get good value for money.
They layout of the restaurant is in the increasingly popular long tables with benches style, which allows many small groups to sit at one table. This is a good use of space, as the restaurant is quite small, and being able to sit lots of people cuts down on waiting times. The staff are always very friendly and polite, and the service is generally of a high standard. One TINY niggle - when they redecorated a while ago they had some canvases commissioned, which are very nice, and fit with the restaurant well, but there is a spelling error on one of them (it says 'spicey' instead of spicy) in very large letters. Overall this obviously doesn't detract from the experience, and I'm probably just being picky, but you really would have thought someone could have pointed this out to them BEFORE the canvases were put up (and in Oxford of all places)! I have never seen fit to point this out to them, but I'm sure pedantic students mention it all the time.
In conclusion, a fantastic restaurant that I have been to on innumerable occasions during my time in Oxford and which I will sorely miss when I leave.
Noodle Nation (previously known as Noodlebar) is a restaurant which serves oriental food, with all of the main dishes being based around either noodles or rice. It currently has 5 locations: Oxford, High Wycombe, Aylesbury, Maidenhead & Woking. The first branch opened in 2000 & they intend to open more restaurants in the future, although at the moment they're still concentrating on the Oxfordshire/Buckinghamshire/Berkshire/Surrey areas.
When you arrive at the restaurant, a member of staff will seat you at one of several long tables with benches. Each long table sits a few groups of people, but they usually leave a gap of one place in between parties as many people would not like to sit right next to someone they don't know. If you're there as a couple, you'll usually be seated opposite one another. Similar communal seating arrangements are often found in other oriental restaurants such as Wagamama.
Your drinks order is usually taken first, & this always arrives very quickly. They sell the usual drinks such as Coca Cola or J2O, as well as more unusual choices such as Lychee Lemonade. They also sell some alcohol, for example Tiger Beer, & a few different wines.
When you look at the menu, the first section consists of 'sides', which are like starters except they bring them at the same time as the main meal, as an accompaniment. These include small 'nibbles' such as prawn crackers, dumplings & spring rolls; larger side dishes such as tempura battered vegetables or spare ribs; & sharers - crispy duck with pancakes, or a platter of various side dishes.
The sides that I have tried have been very tasty, however the main meals come in generous portions so you may not have room for side dishes! It's quite hard to resist ordering them though.
The rest of the menu consists of the 'noodlebar' section & the 'ricebar' section. These are the main meals.
Noodle dishes: you can either choose wok-fried noodles or noodle soup. With each of these, you choose the type of noodles you would like; I always go for yo min, which are medium Chinese wheat & egg noodles. You can also choose thick, flat rice flour noodles; thick wheat flour noodles; or fine vermicelli noodles. For the wok-fried noodles, you then choose which other ingredients you would like to be included in the stir-fry. Examples include chicken, duck, mixed meat, & king prawn. Personally I highly recommend the mixed vegetable & cashew option, which includes delicious, fresh-tasting vegetables such as mushrooms, chinese leaf, & peppers, as well as tasty cashew nuts. All the stir-fries have spring onion, beansprouts & carrot in them. Be warned that if you choose the Singapore noodles they are VERY spicy! Too spicy for me anyway!
If you choose a noodle soup (which are also very tasty, although in my opinion not quite as delicious as the stir-fries), the options are quite similar, i.e. you can have chicken, pork, duck, seafood etc.
The noodle dishes also have a 'low-carb' option in which the noodles are replaced with extra beansprouts, spring onion & carrots. I'm sure these dishes are very nice, & it's nice to have this extra option on the menu, but personally I just love noodles!
Rice dishes: there are a lot of these to choose from, & they sound very tempting, however I have never actually tried any of them as I just can't resist the noodles! I can tell you though that for each of these dishes you can choose either steamed rice or egg-fried rice (or you can even replace the rice with noodles for an extra charge of 80p!). Again you choose an option such as chicken, vegetable, seafood etc, & also a sauce such as oyster, black bean, chinese curry etc. You can also have a rice stir-fry.
You can take a look at the whole menu on their website (www.noodlebar.net). There's also a children's menu available, but I've never visited with children so can't comment on this. I also seem to remember that they have a small dessert menu but I'm usually too full to even consider dessert!
Once you've ordered your food, you'll be amazed at how quickly it arrives, especially as it is freshly cooked. The food is some of the nicest I've ever tasted, & Noodle Nation is certainly the best oriental restaurant I've visited. This is mostly because everything tastes so fresh. I also enjoy the delicious fresh vegetables cooked in an extremely tasty way, something it can be quite difficult to find in many restaurants. I don't know what combination of oils/spices/herbs they use, however the result is extremely more-ish!
These restaurants provide healthy fast food in a relaxed yet restaurant-style atmosphere, & at amazingly good value. The mixed vegetable & cashew stir-fry that I usually choose costs only £4.95 & is a very generous portion.
I've visited the Oxford, High Wycombe & Aylesbury branches and have found them all to be very friendly, with excellent service.
Noodle Nation are a set of restaurants specialising in Chinese & Thai cuisine. The restaurants contain long tables with benches in order to maximise the amount of people that can be seated within the area.
The menu is made up of mainly noodle and rice dishes available with your choice of meat/vegetables and the relevent flavourings. One of my favourite dishes they do is mixed meat ho fun noodles. These are medium & quite thick noodles served with a mixture of chicken, duck, beef & pork and they do taste great.
If I had to describe this place in three words, it would be cheap and cheerful. Two of you really can eat here for under a tenner, with each dinner only costs four or five pounds. The service is great too as you get your food really fast after ordering it.
Normally when food is so cheap, it is usually a bad sign. But in this case it's not as the items are always very tasty & freshly prepared. In addition if you're a student you can get a further 10% of your bill. The restaurants are always very busy and you can see why, as they offer great food at exceptional value.