Noodle Kingdom, on the outskirts of Melbourne’s Chinatown and smack in the middle of the CBD, is one of those rare and exciting places where you can pretty much trace the course of your dish from its very creation to its eventual presentation before you.
First, walking along Russell Street, your eye is immediately drawn inside as a man who seems half-chef and half-fairground entertainer feverishly rolls, stretches, slaps and then slices large wads of dough into the restaurant’s eponymous main dish. Venture further inwards, and it is then possible to sit and watch a large, open kitchen where a highly charged troupe of other workers scurry around beside this Noodle King to stow, season and serve your order. As dining experiences go, it’s certainly more AFL than it is a la carte.
Food at Noodle Kingdom comes with a kind of earthy simplicity, an aura amply recreated by other elements of the restaurant. Service is unhurried without ever quite veering into lazy, while the decor here is traditional without getting into tacky. Light music is played, as authentic as anything on the menu, on a low volume and proved altogether soothing, lending the whole place a calm air.
From the plain, well-etched wooden tables to the well-worn menus, nothing about Noodle Kingdom could be termed fine dining, but there can be few other places in Chinatown or across the city that offer such striking food at such knock-down prices. With close to all-day opening hours and with wads of hungry students and willing workers nearby, the Noodle King and his colleagues look sure to reign for some time to come.