Noodle Shack: Malaysia's homey noodle kitchen with a heartwarming history
October 11, 2021
We've probably walked past Noodle Shack in IPC Shopping Centre, 1 Utama, Avenue K and Paradigm Mall hundreds of times, without knowing the history and humanity behind this brand.
Noodle Shack has endured 12 years since its birth - an eternity in the life expectancy of Malaysian restaurants.
From a small, 400-square-foot eatery that launched in Ikano Power Centre, it has multiplied into a beloved brand with four locations, spanning a combined space of 4,000 square feet.
When it started in April 2009, when many teenagers today were still toddlers, Noodle Shack was thankful to be selling 50 bowls of noodles each day.
Before the current pandemic, it was serving 1,000 bowls daily.
That sweet success is a testament to the founders, married couple Joseph and Natalie, who've nurtured Noodle Shack into a delicious destination for all Malaysians who crave honest, homegrown flavours in bowls of fresh, fulfilling noodles.
The food here is bursting with heart and soul, true to the ethos of this eatery.
Joseph and Natalie's recipes are rooted in cherished family creations, handed down by their mothers and grandmothers. They work professionally with close friends they've long known, such as Joseph's former secondary school classmate.
They also strive regularly to give back to the community, hiring disabled employees among their ranks and holding annual charitable events to contribute to orphanages and elderly care facilities.
Noodle Shack takes pride in being "your homey kitchen" - the food is conscientiously prepared, like how a mother would make meals, free of MSG, with less salt and oil, with chicken breast for pure protein. "Whatever we serve, we try our best to be as healthy as possible without being bland," Joseph says.
The cooking is inspired by Joseph and Natalie's ethnic Chinese Malaysian culinary heritage but seeks to be suitable for every Malaysian. Their restaurants remain pork-free, relying on halal suppliers.
True to Joseph's Hakka perspective, these pan mee flat noodles are hand-torn, not machine-pressed, resulting in a more natural, rustically authentic texture. It takes a month or two of meticulous training to get this right, harnessing a technique akin to pulling pizza dough. The noodles are vacuum-packed in Noodle Shack's dedicated central kitchen to ensure freshness across all branches.
The Traditional Hand Torn Flat Noodle is the classic, the ideal introduction if this is your first time to Noodle Shack. It's a generous portion for RM12.90, brimming with beautiful ingredients that fans keep returning for more, over and over again - like a warm, comforting hug in a bowl.
Noodle Shack thoughtfully ensures that every part of this recipe is a pleasure, from the smooth noodles to the soothing vegetables, the meat to the mushrooms, the mackerel fish paste to the anchovy broth, its mellow savouriness coming from anchovies and preserved turnips.
The greens are mandatorily pucuk manis, which is what many pan mee devotees grew up on, never substituted with spinach, choy sum or other leaves.
Even the chilli paste isn't an afterthought, blending two distinct dried chillies for the perfect balance of spicy heat and satisfying flavour, fuelling the lovely noodles with luscious firepower.
If you're obsessed with pan mee soup, this is the rendition to try, paying respectful tribute to a staple that has nourished generations of people.
Beyond the conventional pan mee, Noodle Shack has also fine-tuned a variety of unique preparations.
You might have seen spinach noodles in some restaurants, but Noodle Shack's coriander noodles (RM15.90) might be one-of-a-kind in the Klang Valley, irresistible for those of us who love the inimitable flavour of this wonderfully wholesome herb.
The noodles are green-hued and infused with coriander, showered further with fresh coriander leaves to turn this into a lively, aromatic bowl (fun fact: coriander is antioxidant-rich, reputedly helpful in lowering blood sugar, fighting infections and boosting skin, heart, brain and digestive health).
To enhance enjoyment, Noodle Shack uses Thai coriander, considered more fragrant, less coarse-textured.
Noodle Shack's range of pan mee is wide - you could even try a different recipe every day of the week.
Browse through the playful menu, created to resemble a school exercise book, made from recycled material. You'll discover everything from hot and spicy noodles to noodles with Hakka salted fish, assorted mushrooms, lor mee-style fishballs, or seaweed fishballs; many can be ordered with broth or dry. There's even noodles in soy milk curry; you can customise all the noodles with add-ons of eggs, shrimp, beancurd sheets, mushroom fungus and more.
For the most indulgent, flavourful choice, check out the flat noodles with spicy sambal shrimp and soft-boiled egg (RM13.90) - the sambal packs a powerful punch, evocative of the best belacan.
Since Joseph is Hakka, it also makes sense to serve lei cha - with a memorable pan mee twist.
Noodle Shack's Hakka Pounded Tea Flat Noodles (RM15.90) brings together lei cha and pan mee in one harmonious medley, blanketed with peanuts, French beans and tofu, complete with the 'thunder tea rice' soup of tea leaves, basil leaves and more.
This is the noodle to order for a marvellous meat-free meal - an imaginative, impeccable reinterpretation of lei cha, replacing the typical base of rice with noodles.
Speaking of rice, Noodle Shack introduced a selection of rice specialities this year to cater to rising demand for deliveries. These master the deceptively simple-seeming art of egg fried rice with Hakka Salted Fish & Egg Fried Rice (RM13.90), Hakka Pounded Tea Egg Fried Rice, Olive & Tofu Egg Fried Rice, Seaweed & Egg Fried Rice, and Sambal Shrimp & Egg Fried Rice.
The next time you crave egg fried rice, think of Noodle Shack.
Want some familiar side dishes to share or to accompany your noodles?
The Handmade Mackerel Fish Ball Soup (RM8.90), Crispy Stuffed Bean Curd Roll with Taucu Sauce (RM9.90), Sambal Shrimp Okra (RM8.90) and Hakka Braised Stuffed Tofu (RM9.90) could belong on a family dinner table for a reunion feast, tasting like they were truly cooked with love and care.
If you relish the kick of Noodle Shack's Sambal Chilli Shrimp, it's now available to purchase in jars at all branches (RM23.90) - a top-notch condiment to jumpstart your household cooking.
Noodle Shack's dessert list is less extensive, but it promises a light, refreshing treat to end this experience: The Osmanthus & Goji Berry Jello, floral and fruity, sumptuously chilled (RM5). Noodle Shack pours plenty of effort into this, with firm, smooth konnyaku jelly boiled with osmanthus flowers and no artificial powders, gently sweetened with a shower of evaporated milk.
That's not all - many might not realise that Noodle Shack is a passionate sanctuary for Chinese tea too, believing that tea also offers nurturing sustenance for the body and spirit.
The tea here is worthy of a tea house, helping to purify the palate. Start with the hot brewed choices, spanning Ginseng Oolong Tea, Dong Ding Oolong Tea, Jasmine Green Tea and Puer Tea (RM4), served in porcelain pots that Grandma would approve of.
Mocktail teas are visually engaging, sitting pretty on the table - try the Chrysanthemum Mocktail Tea and Bulgaria Mocktail Tea (RM6 each); sip slowly and calmly to release the stresses of modern life.
The premium tea range includes Cold Brew Tea, steeped for eight hours to make the tea less bitter and astringent, buoyed by more smoothness and less tannins.
The result is tea that's extremely easy and enjoyable to drink, in choices like Cold Brew Dong Ding Oolong Tea (RM5), Cold Brew Chrysanthemum Red Dates Oolong (RM8) and Cold Brew Bulgarian Rose Oolong (RM8).
All in all, Noodle Shack is a Malaysian brand worth believing in - whether you're discovering it for the first time or returning here after a long absence. Many thanks to the team here for having us.
Also at IPC Shopping Centre (IKEA), 1 Utama Shopping Centre, and Avenue K.