Before I finish my Turkey series, I had to publish a food entry first. Anong konek?! Haha! It can benefit you three ways: 1. iwas umay sa Turkey entry (so you won’t get tired of my Turkey entries), 2. discover something new in Riyadh’s gustatory landscape, and 3. help me in my getting over Turkey phase. Hindi kasi ako maka-move on! Haha! Anyway, if you noticed, second to burger from being the latest trend in Riyadh is Asian fast food spots. Before, there was only Yummy Wok which is conveniently located near our work place. (Yes, we are full-time employees… not of The Pink Tarha, haha!) Now, there are a lot of new Asian boxes in the scene. Enter Noodle Box.
At first we thought Noodle Box is a Saudi brand but a few research and we found out that it’s a brand founded by Josh James and David Milne in Victoria, Australia. Established in 1996, it is Australia’s largest franchised noodle restaurant chain and has proven that their Asian street food in a box concept was a hit. The first branch in Riyadh opened in Khalijyah Plaza Mall, Al Hussain Ibn Ali, Al Izdihar. It’s quite far from our usual haunts that’s why we weren’t in the know. Good thing, they opened a branch near King Saud University and we received an invite to try it on its opening week. We waited for a few days before going and when we did, we discovered a restaurant that prides itself in using fresh ingredients to come up with Asian flavors that’s familiar yet distinct.
Noodle Box Riyadh in Prince Turki Bin Abdulaziz Al Awal Street is a small hole-in-the-wall but it was immaculately clean and their staff are courteous and professional. There is a second floor meant for families and ladies but the space is a bit limited. Also, from this area, you can’t see the preparation and cooking of the food unless you crane your body and head on the rail. The men had a great view of the wok station from the bachelor section. Unlike most Asian boxes in the city, Noodle Box is not the “assemble your own meal” type. They have a fixed menu that’s already filled with various kinds of noodles and protein.
Their Classics include Singapore Noodles, Mongolian Beef, Sweet&Tangy, Satay Chicken, Teriyaki Chicken, and Honey Soy Chicken while their Favorites include Pad Thai, Combination, and Gung-Ho Soy (their vegetarian meal), Hot&Spicy, and Blackbean Char Beef. They have a premium line of Specialties that include flavors like Garlic Prawns, Mee Goreng, and BBQ Sesame Beef. All of them are noodle dishes and they only have one rice dish in their menu… Nasi Goreng, a famous Indonesian mix of rice and seafood. It’s easy to become indecisive with their menu; the descriptions swam right before my eyes! So many items to choose from but R and I decided to stick with two their bestsellers: Combination and Mee Goreng in their regular boxes (SR 38 each).
We fell in love with the Combination as soon as we tasted it. The thin egg noodles is covered with the right amount of oyster sauce. It was packed with beef, lamb, chicken, prawn, and shrimp. The noodles had a nice bite to it and eaten warm, it has a very nice filling sensation. Having my favorite protein in the box was a bit overwhelming but I’m not complaining. I love the combination of flavors and textures. The Combination box is the best order when it’s also your first time in Noodle Box.
True to her love for spicy flavors, R picked the right box: Mee Goreng, thick egg noodles with prawns, calamari, shrimps, fish cakes, tofu, and veggies tossed in a rich Malaysian sauce. The noodles were al dente and very filling (if the thin noodles of the Combi was heavy already… imagine its thicker version!). The sauce was a really spicy version of curry. The menu says Malaysian but think of Indian curry and they taste almost the same. The spiciness was at a strong level and only R enjoyed it. There’s an aftertaste that we couldn’t pinpoint. If you’re up for something unusual and hot, Mee Goreng is for you.
We were deceived by the boxes. They looked medium-sized but they were packed to the brim with noodles. A box is enough for two; we even had leftovers! Their regular-sized box is priced at SR 38 for the Classic and Favorites flavors while SR 48 for the Specialties. A smaller box costs SR 28 and SR 33 respectively.
We also tried their Yum Cha and ordered Dragon Wings and Dim Sims. The former are your usual chicken wings tossed in a sweet chili sauce. We enjoyed this one but it’s something we can probably make at home. The Dim Sims wasn’t the dim sum I expected. They were fried and lacking in flavor.
I ordered their promo of Pandamonium Pack consisting of three regular orders of noodles (any from their Classic and Favorites lines), one Yum Cha, and 1 liter of Pepsi for SR 139. It was enough to feed six adults (or more, depending on how hungry you and your companions are). Their Teriyaki Chicken was bland and lackluster while their Pad Thai has a light flavor that’s a bit uninspired. Considering we have really good pad thai here in Riyadh they might want to step up their game on this Thai-style chow mien. I didn’t get the chance to try the Garlic Prawns because I left it in our house and whoever ate it didn’t give me any feedback haha.
If you’re on the lookout for something quick and warm to satiate your hunger, the Noodle Box has every Asian flavor that will fill your tummies. Indonesian peanut sauce? Mongolian sauce? Japanese udon noodles? Drop by Noodle Box and its open kitchen woks will serve them to you in cardboard takeout boxes (be careful with the handle, it can get hot). Every box is a delight to open, their aroma making you salivate and crave for the content even more… maybe that’s why it tastes happy. 🙂
1. Alkhalijiah Plaza, Al-Hussein Bin Ali Street, Al-Izdihar, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
2. Prince Turki Bin Abdul Aziz Al Awal Street, Al-Muhammadiyah, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia