17th August 2015
Box Hill Central
1 Main Street
Box Hill, 3128 VIC
What comes to mind when you think of noodles? Is it chewy strands of udon? Slippery mouthfuls of pho? Spicy tom yum? Or maybe even spaghetti Bolognese? If you ask Tina’s Noodle Kitchen however, they’re talking about the thick, tubular type of rice noodle eaten almost exclusively in the Yunnan province of China.
Needless to say, I grew up eating these rice noodles – or mi xian – for breakfast, and am therefore very sentimental about them. And whilst Colourful Yunnan does bang-up Southern Chinese food, we’re always on the hunt for something closer to our end of town. So when I spotted Tina’s in the city, I immediately told my parents about it. And when they tried it and found it to be the real deal, they dragged me to the Box Hill branch quick-smart, camera in tow.
Dad’s blood sugars came back a bit high recently, so he’s now on a diet. However mum did relent just this once, and allowed him to get the Pork Chitterlings with Pickles Rice Noodles ($13.8). Chitterling is just a cuter word for intestines, but mental images aside, this bowl of noodles was pretty great. The pork soup base was enhanced by generous amounts of pickled greens, and the chitterlings were fatty and moreish.
I on the other hand got the Shredded Pork with Pickles Rice Noodles ($13.8), which is the same as dad’s order, except with sliced pork replacing the offal.
Though these noodles were dried rather than freshly made (you can tell by the reduced elasticity), I found them to be highly slurpable. I also really liked the miscellany hiding in the soup, from fried tofu skins to mushrooms, and even black fungus.
It was however my sister’s Pork Stock Soup (with leg bones) Rice Noodles ($13.8) that had it all. The soup was amazingly umami, the combination of chicken and pork bones making it simultaneously delicate and rich. Beneath the surface hid a cornucopia of treats, which included everything from quail eggs to spam slices (yum!), as well as fried pork, fish balls, tofu, and whole pork bones with meat still attached. It was basically a mini hot-pot for one.
My mum kindly agreed to hand-model her bowl of Assorted Mushroom in Soup Rice Noodles ($13.8) so I could get across the point of just how big these bowls are. And mum has normal sized hands, thank you very much. Unlike the other meat-based soups, this clear broth wasn’t as richly flavoured, but earthy and nourishing instead.
Oh and my sister and I also shared a Purple Sweet Potato Juice ($4.8), which was one of the recommended drinks. It tasted funny and neither of us loved it.
Although they looked enormous, we all managed to finish our noodles; the sheer flood of soup made the serving seem more gargantuan than it was. But what about the overall experience? Despite how shiny the new restaurant was, the ambience was actually a little dodgy. Instead of table service, you line up at the counter to order your bowl of noodles before finding a seat. That equates to several anxious minutes of hoping that a table frees up before the noodles arrive. Barring that however, it was your typical bright, loud Box Hill eating experience, and it is certainly one of a kind.
Oh and, I’m really looking forward to trying out their spicy noodles. Apparently the taste is bang-on.