Sherman's Food Adventures: District Noodle House

District Noodle House

I recently visited District Noodle House located in the fast-growing River District for a quick lunch.  All I had was a Pho and came away satisfied.  I really wanted to try more dishes since their menu is fairly large.  However, I was short on time and really, how much can I eat when I only had one more person with me?  Well, my prayers were answered when I attended a menu tasting along with Jackie, Roanna, Eileen, Joyce and Diana.  Yep, with those capable eaters with me, I know we could put a dent into the menu!

So we began with some standard items in the Pork Spring Rolls and Grilled Pork Patty Salad Roll.  I thought the spring rolls were pretty textbook and then some.  Beyond the crispy wheat wrapper, the filling was good where the mix of pork and veggies was spot on and the texture was not too dense.  In fact, it was on the fluffier side despite the roll being jam-packed with filling.  As for the salad roll, it featured a big piece of sweet and charred pork patty.  What made this roll was the addition of mini fried spring roll inside.  It added a wonderful crunch.

Next, we had the Deep Fried Chicken Wings as well as the House Special Chicken Salad.  Tossed in garlic, black pepper, peppers and butter, these wings had plenty of aroma and flavour.  I found the wings to be crispy with enough seasoning for impact.  However, the toss with the components could've been more aggressive (as they tasted great on their own).  Texturally, the wings were juicy and tender.  As for the salad, it was appetizing with a nice tanginess and brininess.  Loved the crunch of the cabbage while the big pieces of shredded chicken were succulent.

We tried the Vietnamese Beef Carpaccio featuring lightly seared beef tenderloin topped with a house special sauce.  The sauce seemed to be a sweetened soy with elements of acidity and also some saltiness.  On top of the carpaccio was some cilantro, scallions, fried shallots, peanuts and pickled onions.  I found some pieces of the beef to be tender while larger and thicker slices to be have a bit more chew.  I did like the dressing as it was plenty savoury with acidity and a minor hint of spice.

Now here is where the meal got interesting as they are introducing a selection of new dishes including the Vietnamese Mango & Papaya Salad.  This was super delicious where the crunch from the green papaya provided texture while the dried banana blossoms added a "meatiness".  Nice tangy dressing that had sweetness and brininess.  On top of the salad were rice crisps topped with sesame & lime marinated shrimp, balsamic caviar and wasabi mayo.  These bites had a little of everything including crunch, creaminess, bounciness from the shrimp, tang from the balsamic and a bite from the wasabi mayo.

Another new dish was the Double Mustard Green Rolls consisting of shrimp, butter eggs and Vietnamese ham.  These looked like harmless rolls, but in reality, they were less straight-forward than they appeared.  Let's start with the mustard greens first.  They were blanched until tender, but not mushy.  There was the unmistakable slight bitterness such as mustard greens can be.  Inside, the combination of ingredients would've been enough for impact, but the side of mắm nêm added a pungent fermented shrimpiness.

Continuing on with the new, we tried the Vietnamese Pizza served on grilled rice paper and topped with shrimp, pork bits, butter corn and spicy mayo.  Loved the creativity by using multiple layers of hydrated rice paper that was crisped up by putting it on a hot grill.  The result was a firm crunch that was a bit smoky.  Having the spicy mayo on top provided a kick that was complimented well by the bursts of sweetness from the corn niblets.  Add in the meatiness of the shrimp and aromatics from the pork, we had an appetizing dish.

Those were the smaller new dishes, but they also had 2 larger mains in the Fried Banh Chung & Beef Short Ribs.  This was plated as a composed dish with a large braised short rib covered with a creamy peppercorn sauce.  Meaty and fork tender, the short rib was flavourful on its own but the sweet and savoury peppercorn sauce added the necessary moisture and saltiness.  I found the sauce a touch salty, but when eaten in moderation, it was tasty.  On the side, there was fried sticky rice that was super crunchy.  Some pieces were a bit too crunchy, but others were soft and glutinous.  Perfectly roasted honey glazed carrots completed the dish.

The other dish was the La Vong Sizzling Cod Fish Wrap & Roll.  It was impressively presented on a hot cast iron plate with dill and scallions.  Tender and flaky, the pieces of cod were marinated in fermented rice, turmeric and galangal.  Hence, the fish was not devoid of flavour.  However, the dominant item was the ample amount of dill.  This was served with ruby red lettuce and herbs as well as vermicelli and rice paper.  There was a choice of sauces including the mắm nêm and mắm tôm.  Lots of impact here including the pungent brininess of the mắm tôm.

Back to regular programming, we had a selection of sandwiches including Grilled Lemongrass Pork, Grilled Lemongrass Chicken and Cold Cut.  All 3 featured crusty and airy baguettes that stayed as such even though it sat there on the table as we took our photos.  My personal favourite was the cold cut or Bánh Mì đặc biệt since it was loaded with meat.  It had the usual ingredients such as pickled veggies, jalapenos, mayo, soy sauce, cucumbers and cilantro.  The other 2 contained plenty of moist charred meat as well as the same ingredients.  The chicken was predictably more tender.

Of course we had to get some soup noodles too in the form of Pho Satay and Pho Ga.  I thought that the base broth for the Pho Satay was quite meaty, yet light at the same time.  I didn't think it was particularly spicy, rather it was aromatic.  The noodles were not overdone and the meats were both plentiful and tender.  As for the Pho Ga, it consisted of chicken meat and chicken meatballs.  I found the meatballs to be fluffy and bouncy while the chicken was fairly tender.  The broth was clean and sweet.

Hitting all the usual dishes, we had the  Special Rice Platter and Special Vermicelli. Both included lemongrass chicken, pork chop and pork patty.  The vermicelli added a spring roll while the rice included a runny egg.  As usual, we found pickled daikon and carrots, lettuce, cucumber and tomato.   Fish sauce was served on the side.  Much like the meats in the bánh mì, they were well-marinated, properly charred and tender.

We had another rice dish in the Vietnamese Shaking Beef.  This featured cubes of beef that were wok-fried with onions and garlic.  This was plenty aromatic from the caramelization of the beef.  Furthermore, the beef was marinated enough so that it was tender with a balance of sweet and salty flavours.  Naturally, this went well with the side of chewy rice (in a good way).

We did a complete tasting by sampling a wide range of their Drinks including Lemongrass Kumquat Black Tea, Lychee Iced Tea, Passionfruit Iced Tea, Creamsicle Orange, Condensed Milk Cold Coffee, Strawberry Smoothie, Durian Smoothie, Avocado Smoothie and Jackfruit Smoothie.  My favourite was the Durian Smoothie hands down.  It was creamy and well-blended where the durian flavour came through without being overbearing.  It was lightly sweet and aromatic.  I also enjoyed the Lychee Iced Tea as it was not too sweet and really refreshing.  Overall, the food we had at District Noodle House was quite good with some of the new dishes being both interesting and showing the creativeness of the kitchen.  Great addition to the River District!

*All food and beverages were complimentary for this blog post*

The Good:
- Good eats
- Well-portioned
- Some interesting creations

The Bad:
- Pho broth can be a bit more aggressive
- Prices are on the higher side, but then again, what is cheap these days?


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