Deciding on a place to meet mates for lunch in Shanghai is no simple task -- with so many choices and so many tastes it's hard to keep everyone happy. Trying out a new place is a mixed bag as well. Once in a while a star is born and the job of picking a place to eat at gets a little easier... well at least for a few months before standards start slipping and something new comes along. I guess there are only a handful of places that remain consistent and stand the test of time. The Noodle Bull
, a new Taiwanese noodle restaurant in The Mansion on Fumin Lu is still in its "star phase," and I hope it can maintain it's high quality and good value because I'm looking forward to making it one of my favorites.
You may have noticed the construction at the intersection of Fumin Lu and Changle Lu for the last half year or so. This corner was a long-time traffic nightmare and pedestrian obstacle course -- and it still clogs up in rush hours -- but a least it's a little cleaner with the completion of The Mansion, a new low rise office block (there's also a Coffee Bean in there now). A few other locations at this intersection are sprucing up and renovating as well, so maybe they'll give Xinle Lu a run for their money in time.
On first glance, Noodle Bull looks rather imposing and expensive, with its starkly modern Zen design. It's a rather large space and offers a sparse table layout, great for private dining, but doesn't do much to invite budget-conscious guests. Despite our skepticism of the affordability of the food, our curiosity eventually won out, and after weeks of walking past it with my dog, I finally sat down for a meal.
To my surprise, prices were affordable bordering on cheap and they keep it simple as well: the menu is rather small with five variations on the Taiwanese Noodle. It's rare these days to find a tasty place for lunch under 50rmb, and with noodles in the 18rmb to 36rmb range, this place has got the right stuff. I had a chance to sample the majority of the variations and was continually amazed with how well the dishes turned out for how much I was paying. Noodle Bull chalks up it success to hand-made noodles, good ingredients, a well-train staff, and clean, modern interiors. It's quite fantastic and now I'm really happy I have a place close by for lunch should the need for noodles arise.
One suggestion I would make to the owners, however, would be to expand the variety of beverage options beyond Coke and beer.