Work lunches… crispy roast duck and farewell to Chad
Tuesday – the Noodle Box franchise has come to East Perth (118 Royal St). Here’s J’s Combo Box (small AU$8.50, regular $12.50), steaming hot. The Combo Box is supposed to include egg noodles, barbecue pork, chicken, beef, vegetables, prawn and shrimp in oyster sauce. J was disappointed to find she only got the tiny shrimps in her noodles with not a prawn in sight (well, Noodle Box does make a distinction between “shrimps” and “prawns” on their menu, and they said this dish has both!). A few general points to note: 1) The small serve is pictured. The box is filled to the corners and brim, and actually holds a lot of noodles. Unless you have a huge appetite, I think the small serve will fill you up nicely for lunch. 2) According to the menu, a number of Noodle Box’s noodles are supposed to include roast pork. Well, it’s not roast pork in the noodles; it’s definitely barbecue pork. I’m a little perplexed that a place specialising in noodle stir-fries can mix those up. 4) You can order your noodles mild, medium or hot, and vegetarian, if you prefer. They also do custom noodle orders. I ordered the Black Belt Box, which is Noodle Box’s version of Hokkien Mee (small AU$7.95, regular $11.95). My noodles were dark and saucy and pretty good. I did take photos of my noodles, but they didn’t turn out very well, so I haven’t posted any (sorry!). We got to Noodle Box after 12:30pm and it was really busy, and the cashier staff seemed somewhat frazzled. They really need more cooks and more woks on the go at lunch time. They’d get through the orders more quickly, which would make the hungry punters happy, and help those cashiers relax a little more. Noodle Box isn’t where I’d go if I felt like real hawker-style hokkien mee; I’d go to Munch Terrace for that. But if I felt like vaguely Asian-style saucy stir-fried noodles, Noodle Box will be a good choice. I would like to try some more of Noodle Box’s noodles, so I’ll be back soon.
Wednesday – J and I went to Munch Terrace (Shop 6, 230 Hay St, Corner Bennett St). I ordered the roast duck noodles (AU$9.00, the most expensive dish on the lunch specials menu). The roast duck had been deep fried – I could see how ultra crispy the duck skin was even before I tasted it, and I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into it. And I love the texture of the thin egg noodles, the same sort they use for wantan mee, probably my favourite kind of egg noodles. As soon as I saw the duck I heard the voice of Elaine Benes, starving and practically delirious: “But here it was, mountains of duck. And not fatty duck, either, but juicy tender breasts of duck”… (the episode is from season 3 “The Suicide” – the one with the Drake’s coffee cake). Remember it?
J ordered the roti prata with chicken curry (AU$8.00), which seems to be quite a popular dish at Munch.
There were two pieces of roti. We’re pretty sure it’s the kind you buy frozen. Not that J cared; it tasted great.
You get a decent amount of chicken curry to go with the roti. J wasn’t so thrilled with the potatoes – they had that pulpy texture that comes from being frozen. But still, it was tasty curry, and more than enough to go with the roti. That’s a lot of chicken!
Thursday – J and I enjoyed an Indian curry lunch at IGA supermarket on Royal St (opposite 88 Royal and Il Pasto). I’ve mentioned before that IGA has an Indian curry buffet, with a chef serving up the food (well, he may not be a chef, but he’s dressed like one!). He’s very friendly and helpful and happy to tell you all about the dishes on offer. You can get takeaway, but if you dine in, your rice and curry selections are served up on a big square plate. There are tables set up outside IGA on the pavement for you to dine alfresco style after you’ve paid for your meal at the check-out. It’s a good idea to get there early, preferably before 12:30pm, otherwise you’ll have to join a long queue and risk missing out on the more popular dishes. On the day we were there, we arrived just after noon and had the pick of everything – from memory, this is what was on offer: butter chicken, lamb vindaloo, chicken korma, potato curry, dhal, chickpea curry, eggplant curry, steamed basmati rice, chicken briyani. There was also a Thai green curry and grilled teriyaki-marinated barramundi fillets. The grilled fish fillets looked really good, actually. But we were there for Indian food, and Indian food is what we ordered.
J and I each got a small combination: rice, one meat dish and two vegetable dishes (really good value, at AU$7.90). J chose the butter chicken, chickpeas and dhal with chicken briyani.
I chose the butter chicken, eggplant, potatoes and chicken briyani. That briyani was fantastic! Deliciously spicy yellow rice with chunks of chicken, slivered almonds and my favourite component, plump sweet raisins. The butter chicken sauce wasn’t as creamy as what I’ve eaten in Indian restaurants, but it was tasty, with big, tender pieces of chicken. The potatoes, flavoured with mustard seeds, were good too.
The eggplant was delicious! I love the smoky flavour of roasted eggplant, and its soft, practically pulverised flesh barely held together by the dark skin. There were tomatoes in the dish too – I love curry with tomato in it. J’s chickpea dish had tomato in it too, and looked really good. As you can see, the eggplant dish was quite oily. Why oh why are all the tastiest things fatty or oily?!
Friday was a bittersweet day for me. My best friend at work, Chad, will be on secondment from next week and will be gone for at least the next six months. It’s a great career move for her, and will probably lead to other exciting opportunities (I secretly think she’ll keep moving on and won’t be back, which is sad for me but brilliant for her). As a farewell, SRM and I took her out to lunch. Chad invited her replacement C to come along. It was Chad’s choice where we ate, and she chose 88 Royal (88a Royal St). Chad and C both ordered chicken strip rolls. Chad’s eaten the chicken strip and salad plate before – see this previous post for a photo. The chicken strips were placed in a flour-dusted bread roll with lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise.
The chicken strip roll from another angle:
SRM and I had hamburgers. A big meat pattie, cheese, tomato, lettuce, thinly sliced red onion and bacon in a lightly toasted sesame seed bun. When you order a burger, they always ask you what sauce you’d like in it. I chose tomato sauce. SRM chose sweet chilli sauce in his. Here’s my burger. The pattie looks somewhat blackened, but it was still very juicy on the inside. I had no complaints, and enjoyed every bite.
We went out for farewell drinks at the pub on Friday after work, which was great fun. I don’t want to get mushy or anything, but I’m really going to miss Chad. We’ll definitely be keeping in touch.
And here’s another view of my roast duck noodles. All that duck skin and the delicious duck fat beneath it… definitely not something I’ll be eating on a regular basis, no matter how much I’d like to!