This Pan Asian place serves chilli paneer baos & chestnut dim sums
The number of Pan Asian restaurants in the city is few and far between. So, naturally, the newly opened The Noodle Theory on Landons Road, Kilpauk, which exclusively serves vegetarian Pan Asian cuisine, has been a talking point among the foodies on social media. Although a tad apprehensive about the vegetarian tag, we decided to check it out and much to our own surprise, we admit that we did not really ‘miss’ the meat.
The 24-cover restaurant, complete with a cash counter that extends into a closed live kitchen counter, is very utilitarian, giving us the impression that this place is not about the décor as much as it is about the food. Yashwanth Mehta, a lawyer-turned-restaurateur seats us at our table, the only one free during the busy lunch service. As he hands us refreshing beverages (cleverly named after physicists like Edison, Graham Bell and the late former Indian President Abdul Kalam), he talks about the inspiration behind The Noodle Theory. “I used to travel all over the world for work and I was particularly fascinated by the make-your-own-meals concept in Europe. So, when I came back to India in 2012, I decided I wanted to try something like that here, eventually. Straying away from the usual Subway concept, or choose your pizza topping offers that were common, I decided to opt for something Pan Asian, particularly vegetarian — not just because I am one, but also because the option of vegetarian Pan Asian is hard to come by in Chennai.”
The restaurant is self-service so we head over to the counter to choose from the make-your-own-meal menu that is handed to us along with a pen. “Just tick off whatever catches your fancy,” encourages Yashwanth. After a quick scan of the offerings that is divided into starters, baos, dim sums, salads and of course, woks, we begin with a four-piece plate of miso tofu and water chestnut dim sum, with a spicy chilli oil, which really just sits there, for the miso is so flavourful, that we don’t really need to dunk our dim sums in the sauce. For starters, we choose the crunchy lotus stem (lotus stem deep-fried and tossed in signature sauces) and a soft and spicy chilli paneer bao bun, with generous amounts of filling. We then choose our wok — a five-step process. For the base, we get udon noodles with tofu as the protein (the other option being paneer). From a list of 18 veggies (including options like bok choy, bamboo shoot and water chestnut) we choose five, following which we opt for a Japanese red wine sauce for that dramatic toss! The final step is a light garnish of burnt garlic and crushed peanut. Although packed with flavour, we wish we had more veggies for our stir-fry. The Thai-curry-jasmine-rice wok too was a tad dry in terms of texture, but the fragrant flavours of kaffir lime and lemongrass were spot on. Their in-house baked Kit Kat eggless brownie really brings it home for us at the end of the meal — needless to say this one was readymade and didn’t need us to tick any boxes of ingredients!
Timings: 11am to 10 pm; meal for two: Rs 500 to Rs 650 (approx)