417-419 High St, Preston, VIC 3072
Everyone says don't judge a book by its cover on Urbanspoon about this place and it's true in one basic way - a fishbowl look of the place would tell you this is a basic really no frills place. Yet, if you take a look at dinner time, this tiny place always has punters and can get pretty full of a mixed crowd that has uncovered a real gem in Preston.
The place is nothing to write home about. It's like a basic canteen that's really down to earth and has absolutely no pretensions about anything. It's just a place to park yourself and slurp noodles. There's also not a lot of space and prams are going to be difficult. Parking is ok depending on time of the day or week as it the Preston Markets parking is available. Of course, on market days, you might not want to compete with the crazy drivers that I find there all the time.
Things to do Nearby: Preston Market and High Street shops. Also, if you in a rush to get to an event at the Preston Townhall, this is nice and handy.
Fresh, really fresh noodles made on premises, explaining the doughy smell of the place.If you see the plastic screen above, that's where they do the noodles. You can also see them preparing the dumplings in the shop window facing High Street (pictured above to the left of the picture).
I like their various noodle soups, their soy stewed meats in noodles are good because it reminds me of the stewed meats I used to have as a child. These included Stewed Pork Noodles (pictured right), Stewed Beef Noodles and Stewed Lamb Noodles. I didn't feel very thirsty after the noodles here, so they probably don't use very much MSG either - but I can't guarantee that.
To explain these dishes, the noodles are not actually served with the stewed sauces. The noodles are served with a clear soup base (either pork, beef or lamb bones based depending on what you have ordered), and then the pieces of stewed meats and basic vegetables are added in to the noodle soup. So the dish becomes a quite delicate balance of flavours, with the hand rolled noodles as the star. The noodles are of great quality, it's thicker that the manufactured ones in the city. They are huge bowls of noodles though they don't give you an overdose of the proteins, you get a very generous serve of noodles. They also do dry noodles and fried noodles here but the soups are the highlight for me.
|Pork chop Noodle Soup (pork chop is a quite salty)
|Minimalist Zhajiag Noodles (more on that below)
The service here is basic, but very friendly, unlike many other dumpling places in the city. They are friendly, take time to explain and take time to clarify what you want. The dishes seldom come out at the same time for each table but they do come in pretty quick succession. They key to note is that they are friendly, which is important at a place like this. It is such a refreshing change from the surly waitstaff in many similar places.
For a quick no frills yummy meal in Preston, if you can get in to this place, it's a go-er. It's now my go to place for Chinese noodles in Preston.
Two quintessential Northern Chinese Noodles are DanDan Mian and ZhaJiang Mian. These are dry noodles and what I call Chinese Spag Bol. So what it is are handmade noodles, cooked al dente and then dowsed in a meat sauce. It's usually minced or finely diced pork, with lots of garlic in both the sauces. The difference is in the base of the sauces.
DanDan Mian has a rather spicy chilli base. Some places do really spicy DanDan sauce that only seasoned diners can cope with. In Melbourne, this is usually more adapted to our taste where it is more manageable. Many places would use Szechuan peppercorns in the sauce as well.
Zhajiang Mian has a 'stir fried' sauce with a fermented bean paste base. This uses a thick fermented soy bean paste which has a tangy taste. The one pictured above at One Noodle Friendship is really concentrated and doesn't have enough meat (for my taste). If there is a spice here, it's more a sprinkle of it.