Thursday, March 5, 2009

Humming of garlic

photo courtesy of

I’m currently sitting at my desk – eyes searching frantically for chewing gum because my breath hums of garlic. I’ve already enlisted the help of a couple of Wrigley’s sticks but to no avail, the situation is serious.

I knew, I knew the moment I piled the garlic and ginger sauce all over that first prawn cracker at lunch that things weren’t going to be too pretty in the afternoon, but had I known just how bad it was going to be, I’m not sure I would have even touched them. Ok, well I’d have savoured each garlicky, spicy, bud-blowing bite a lot more than I did.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with the Arabic world, the Islamic holy day is
Fridays (as opposed to the Western world’s Sundays), so we have Friday and Saturday weekends. This means that today, Thursday, is a time to kick back and start gearing yourself into weekend mode. It’s also traditionally the day that I treat myself to lunch out with a friend rather than munching on some home-made concoction whilst poring over a book (Middlemarch currently).

So today, after an interview with the executive chef at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel in which I talked about food with one of the city’s experts and watched in envy as Tonie shot dish after glorious dish of gastronomic achievement, we were fairly famished by the time it came to lunchtime.

To sate our appetite, we needed something quick, tasty and inexpensive (it’s the credit crunch daaaarling) so we ventured to The Noodle House in the Madinat Jumeirah next door. Every city these days has its functional food Asian restaurant – one of those ones where you all cram seven to a table or sit on one of those long diners that seat fifty hungry bellies and their attached bottoms. Some are good, some are not so good.

The Noodle Room is one of the better incarnations however, and, with fantastic views and super-efficient service, it’s one of the better cheaper options in the Madinat.

I digress. The whiffy breath is down to the prawn crackers and accompanying sauces that were served before the meal. Light puffs of crispy cracker were brought to life by four concotions of varying spiciness. Garlic and ginger, green chilli in vinegar, red chilli sauce and I forget the fourth, the trip was justified by these alone. Before long, we were giggling over the increasing frequency that both of us were reaching for the tissue box and anticipating the arrival of the mains.

If it wasn’t for the fact that it was completely unmemorable, I’d be more inclined to give the sweet and sour chicken a good write up. As it is, I suppose if you order processed meat and red sauce, you can’t act all surprised when it’s completely artificial and doesn’t particularly taste of anything, but even so, I shall.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t disgusting, it just wasn’t as good as it could have been. In fact, my local Chinese takeaway in Woodside, London, could have shown them a thing or two about sweet and sour. The name for starter indicates the crucial characteristics – sweet, sour = flavours. Sadly lacking in this case.

Still, if you are in a hurry and looking for a quick meal – The Noodle House is not a bad option. Tonie’s Pad Thai was apparently delicious and I’ve eaten there many times without encountering the disappointment I did today. Just avoid the Sweet and Sour. Or bland and bland as I’ve renamed it.