Meets Noodle


IT’S one of those nights where everywhere seems to be bursting at the seams, where I stand on the street chatting to a restaurateur as he tells me that since reopening they’ve had to double their staff; where the Chancellor’s meal deal is described to me by another as sudden salvation. And it’s only a Tuesday.

I hear dark stories, too, of how easy it is to swizzle that scheme; of loans and grants being claimed and paid out on temporarily closed restaurants by complete strangers and how, virus or not, we the public are power-spending the cash that was originally earmarked for holidays abroad right up into every weekend. And all the time I’m trying to find somewhere fresh to eat.

These summer nights then. At one restaurant I’m turned away instantly on the grounds they’re completely full. You’re obviously not, I suggest, pointlessly. Wondering now if it’s a bit daft rocking up, at some restaurants anyway, straight from the coal face in a suit, shirt and tie, carrying a lap-top and looking like one of those government grant inspectors who apparently don’t even exist. I need some proper Dad gear.

I press on. On the Finnieston strip a steak restaurant looks accommodating but two steps in the door I’m told: sorry, private function. Across the road The Crabshakk, overdue a new review, remains shuttered, like a good few others seemingly unmoved by the sudden surge, the hungry diners flapping from nets in an unforgettably golden bonanza.

Six By Nico is mobbed out, of course. And then I spot somewhere new right across the road. An unfamiliar sign, clearly empty bench tables, a Plain Jane menu taped to the window and, pulling like a magnet, a section stating: Chinese Street Food.

A mug of green tea later, and I’m chatting with the owner-lady about Zongzi-pork with egg yolk, about Guilin rice noodle, trying to nail down what exactly is in grilled noodle, as she serves customers. There’s one way to find out. I order them all.

Fast forward, say, ten minutes and while gingerly unwrapping a steamed bamboo leaf I’m surprised by two random Chinese guys at the next table pausing on their way out to say to me: enjoy your meal. Nice.

Zongzi-pork, then, with egg yolk. Steamed in the middle of that bamboo leaf is very, very sticky, extremely glutinous rice, (think porridge), some meats which I identify as the aforementioned pork and little golden nuggets of egg yolk. Man, it’s sticky. And not very strongly flavoured.

Unlike the Guilin rice noodle, from the city in the the autonomous Chinese region with the famous limestone scenery next to the one Chairman Mao came from, I think. But certainly containing made-on-the-premises stock so damn beefy they could have named it twice. Yowser. Is there cinnamon or orange peel in there? There are punchy, tangy crunches of spring onion, coriander leaf, fried and floating soya beans (like peanuts) and those slippery, noodles which are so famous back home.

Straight up, I may not have the cultural background to fully appreciate everything I’ll eat tonight but this is lush and light. I don’t, however, finish the grilled noodle which I can now exclusively reveal is flat, fat-like lasagne, flipped and grilled like a taco and stuffed with Chinese sausage and egg, kinda like a breakfast wrap. Who knew?

Who also knew that Glasgow Uni, just behind us somewhere, gets 31% of its income from Chinese students, say £70m a year. That there are thousands in Glasgow’s west end and many have been marooned here over the summer, because of lock-down, flight prices yadaya. The lady who owns this place obviously. They come here for the food they miss from home, she tells me, as she locks up and I pack up and she gives me the bill.

Wow. Just ten pounds in total, I say, thinking of the mountainous dishes I just received. Yes, she says, government pays half. High fives all round.

Meets Noodle

1136 Argyle St



0141 334 8637

Menu: Those famous Guilin rice noodle, grilled noodle Zongzi pork and even some braised intestine – proper Chinese street food. 4/5

Service: Chatty and very friendly, took time whilst serving tables to explain the popularity of some of the dishes. 4/5

Atmosphere: It’s small, pretty plain, functional with a hatch for serving and a plastic-coated menu on bench tables. 3/5

Price: Thanks to the Chancellor this was a whole tenner for three full-size dishes but even when the good times stop it will still be cheap. 5/5

Food: Go for the Guilin rice noodle – a bowl of floating flavours and deep rich made-in-here stock. Try something new. 8/10