Noodles at Hotel Yasmin
Noodle and pasta dishes from around the world overstretch this stylish New Town restaurant
Normally I don't like eating in impersonal hotel restaurants, but when Mr. K suggested we put our head round the door at the über-stylish Restaurace Café Bar Noodlesat Hotel Yasmin last month, I for one couldn't wait to come back and visit properly in order to sample some of the dishes from their intriguing range of international noodle varieties.
The chance coincidence of a "70% off" voucher for the place coming up on one of the Prague-based discount sites a week or so later only served to heighten my anticipation here all the more.
And so it was that the next time Mr. K was in Prague, we both eagerly set off to try out Noodles' eclectic range of Asian and European noodle dishes -- clearly pasta, gnocchi, spätzle and even a good old down-to-earth šunkofleky all come under the somewhat loose categorisation of "noodles" here... Personally speaking, I really liked the worldwide noodle concept -- though, knowing that such over-reaching attempts at dining diversity very often result in overall menu mediocrity, I was quite curious to see how it would survive the execution of so many and various national noodle dishes in practice.
Certainly the interior here is very sleek at any rate. They also have a pleasant courtyard area outside as well, but a bit chilly for that this time of year.
As per usual, Mr. K and I kicked off the evening with a glass of wine each, which at 75 CZK up for a 0.2-liter glass struck me as pretty expensive in comparison to the costs of the food on offer, with mains priced mostly at around the 200 CZK mark. Ah well, I did think the food was suspiciously cheap for a restaurant in a four-star hotel... With our quantitative rather than qualitative approach to wine consumption, it probably goes without saying here that Mr. K and I went for the 75 CZK options in the Sauvignon Blanc and Zweigeltrebe -- the former nice enough, but the latter definitely not approved of by a normally comparatively unfussy Mr. K.
A small basket of warm white and granary baguettes with salted butter was brought to our table at the same time.
As we had a 1,000 CZK voucher to play with here, we both decided to go for starters on this occasion. I was tempted by the simple salad bar option (49/99 CZK for a small/large plate) here as well, but in the end decided to join Mr. K in ordering from the starter choices on the menu.
Mr. K soon settled on the baked Spanish sheep cheese served on butter brioche, with roasted yellow tomatoes and pistachio gnocchi (159 CZK), while I -- feeling in a spice mood that night -- opted for the Thom Khaa Kai soup (89 CZK).
These both went down very well -- I really enjoyed the coconut creaminess of my Thom Khaa Kai, made with chilli, galangal, mushrooms, chilli peppers and lime leaves, while Mr. K also really liked his hunk of herby sheep cheese with lamb's leaf and roasted tomato garnish. Neither of us were quite convinced by the pieces of pistachio gnocchi, however, which were quite dense and didn't really taste of anything much -- let alone pistachio nut (which may or may not have been a good thing).
Both starter portions were pretty filling, however, and neither of us really had a lot of room left over for our main courses.
Both wanting to go for something a little bit different than just the usual Thai or Chinese, I decided upon the Indonesian Bami Goreng (229 CZK) while Mr. K opted for the Mongolian Tsuivan (229 CZK) noodles.
Of the two, my Bami Goreng was definitely the better option, with tasty wonton noodles roasted in nut oil and tossed with prawns, Chinese leaves, ginger and chicken meat. In itself quite tasty I found, but admittedly quite unlike any of the inexpensive street versions I've had travelling round Indonesia in the past. It was definitely a huge portion, though, and I couldn't finish more than even half...
By contrast, I can't claim to have sampled any Mongolian noodles on the ground first hand, so can't comment too much on the authenticity of Mr. K's choice here. Made with lamb meat, potatoes and green beans, it was almost reminiscent of an English-style stew, made with egg noodles rather than, say, suet dumplings or mash -- a distinctive combination, which, after a couple of bites, I have to say, was gradually starting to grow on me. Mr. K, however, really wasn't a fan, deeming the resultant flavor somewhat "earthy" and "muddy" for his tastes.
On our first visit, the bill exceeded the voucher by 500 CZK or so, mainly thanks to Mr. K's unfortunate decision to upgrade to the Neronet wine at 120 CZK and then go on to drink three glasses thereof in quick succession.
Though our first meal hadn't quite lived up to initial expectations, at this stage I was still pretty enthusiastic about coming back and working my way through some more of the diverse range of noodle dishes on offer. Mr. K was up for giving the place another go, so -- deciding to strike while the iron was hot -- the very next evening we were back for dinner at Hotel Yasmin round two.
Unfortunately, on this occasion the main dining area was booked out for a corporate event, which did irk us somewhat as we'd asked the previous evening if they were open the next day, and they hadn't mentioned a private party at all then. Not wanting to embark on a vain hunt for somewhere else semi-decent around Václavák at 9pm on a Sunday night, we therefore decided just to stick with it and sit exiled in the somewhat desolate side section instead.
Some people may have been tempted to take revenge for this unhappy turn of events in terms of seating arrangements by attempting to pilfer a glass of wine or two from the corporate open bar, only then to get caught in the act, but those people would, of course, certainly not have been us.
Foodwise, this time round Mr. K went for the Japanese option, in the Yaki Udon with Soba and Udon noodles, dried tuna fish, pork meat and vegetable (249 CZK).
To put it bluntly, this really wasn't very nice at all. The vegetables seemed stewed rather sautéed, with the dish doused in a gloopy, chilli-devoid gravy rather than served in spicy Japanese-style sauce, collectively resulting in something of a sloppy, overdone, noodly mess. In short, I felt I really could have done better with a jar of generic stir-fry sauce and bag of wok vegetables myself at home.
As for my supposed Malaysian Char Kway Teow with spicy tomato sauce, shrimps, boiled egg and soya sprouts, well, all I can say here is -- when did you last see a Malaysian tagliatelle dish??? This looked and tasted far more like a bad version of tagliatelle amatriciana with a few shreds of cabbage and carrot thrown in and a hard-boiled egg on top rather than any real dish of South-East Asian origin, and I for one was definitely not impressed here.
Perhaps the kitchen had its eye off the ball that night due to hosting the aforementioned private party -- still, Italian pasta in a purportedly Asian noodle dish is a sin I find pretty hard to forgive from an otherwise upmarket restaurant that markets itself on the quality and range of its international noodle varieties...
Still, we decided to split a dessert anyway in order to sweeten the slightly sour taste left in our mouths by the decidedly less than impressive mains, opting on this occasion for the chestnut mousse with white egg soufflé and whipped cream (79 CZK).
This actually came presented as a cocoa-topped mousse with a few mini meringue sticks on the side, but, hey ho, close enough... The meringue itself I could take or leave, but I did really enjoy the intensely nutty flavor of the delicious chestnut mousse, which Mr. K and I quickly polished off between us in just a few short bites.
The bill for our second visit came to about 1,000 CZK, which neither Mr. K or I in this case considered money well spent, and in the event we left pretty disappointed and with the vague suspicion that -- despite the unique menu here -- the place may just represent all-style-no-substance hotel restaurant fare after all...
I wanted so much to like Noodles. In fact I still do. Probably the foodie in me won't be able to properly put the place to bed in my mind until I've sampled at least some of their German, Swiss, Thai and Korean options, after which I will definitely write up another review if I've anything more positive to report at that stage.
As it currently stands, though, high initial anticipation about Noodles at Hotel Yasmin has, sad to say, now given way to far more lowly expectations for any future visits -- though I hope yet to be proven wrong here...
Restaurace Café Bar "Noodles"
Politických vězňů 12/913
Phone: (+420) 234 100 110
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