Have you ever been on a trip overseas and had a meal so good that you wished you could bring the restaurant back home? That’s what happened to Lawrence Lee, who did exactly this.
When he was in Malaysia visiting family, his mom took him to a Go Noodle House outlet, where they ordered a bunch of dishes. Launched in 2014 by three friends (including two who have studied in Melbourne), Go Noodle House is among the most popular noodle chains in Malaysia, with over 30 stores across the country.
“As soon as we finished eating, I put my mum in a car back home and went straight to their office,” says Lee to SBS Food. After several months of negotiations, he became the owner of the first Go Noodle House outside of Malaysia.
How to order your noodles
Located at the corner of Exhibition and Little Bourke Streets, the Melbourne outlet opened at the end of October and is already selling up to 800 bowls of noodles a day. Each bowl is made to order, assembled with your choice of soup, noodle and extras, that you write up on a form.
Go Noodle House’s signature broth is the “superior soup”, a delicate fish and shellfish broth, to which you can add rice wine for a touch of sweetness. “It changes the taste completely. The soup you’re having would be completely different if you add rice wine. It actually compliments it very well,” explains Lee. If you know you’ll be back for more, you can buy a bottle of rice wine to keep behind the counter with your name on it. But if you prefer punchy flavours, go for the other soup, the hot-and-sour.
There are three noodle choices: mi xian, a thin rice noodle originating from China’s Yunnan province, the Japanese wheat-based udon, and pan mee, a wheat-based Malaysian-Chinese noodle. The latter is handmade at the restaurant and comes in three different shapes (round and thin, flat or large tears).
Once you've decided on your soup and noodles, you get to pick what you’ll add to your bowl: bursting meatballs (which often sell out before the end of the day), mussels, prawns, pork belly, mushrooms, fish dumplings, and more. At that point, your bowl will be big enough for a meal, but you can still add up to three extras, like Chinese doughnuts or an onsen egg.
The pan mee, which has been especially popular at the Melbourne outlet, also comes in a dry version with a dark sauce, wilted greens and mushrooms. Add an onsen egg and the trio of minced pork, fried anchovies and fried shallots, for the perfect mix of textures.
Don’t forget the snacks!
Lee has kept the Melbourne menu similar to Malaysia, with a few tweaks like a liquor licence and a longer snack section.
“Our snack menu is extensive. They’re all Asian snacks, a lot of them are street food,” says Lee, explaining that he was inspired by the street food you find in Asian wet markets. Think fish and meat skewers, sausages and balls, like keropok lekor, a Malaysian fish sausage. The crispy fish skin pairs well with beer, while the large trio platter (Spam fries, crispy bean curd skins and Chinese doughnuts) is great to dip in your soup.
To add some heat, stop by the condiment station to get some sambal belachan or chilli oil.
“Go Noodle is all about value for money. There are so many restaurants where you spend 20 bucks and you leave and you’re not even full,” says Lee. “We designed this menu to make sure that you’re full when you walk out.”
Talking about value for money… If you can eat the $49 massive bowl (containing about 3.5 kg noodles and meat, and 1.5 kg soup) in 30 minutes, the bowl is free. But be warned, many have tried and nobody has succeeded so far.
Lee told SBS Food that more Go Noodle House branches should open next year in Melbourne, Sydney and possibly Perth.
Go Noodle House
195 Exhibition Street, Melbourne
Daily 10 am – 10 pm