Matt and Cat are big lovers of sci-fi. Matt, who fancies himself as a writer and a scientist, combines those two interests in a bookshelf chock full o’ the works of Asimov, Heinlein and Iain M Banks.
Cat prefers to have her sci-fi injected straight into her eyeballs. In the 1980s, when her hair was as vast as Arnie’s biceps, she loved staring glassy-eyed at the Austrian Oak’s portrayal of The Running Man, or his seamless depiction of both Douglas Quaid and Hauser in Total Recall, adapted from Philip K Dick’s ‘We Can Remember It For You Wholesale’.
The ultimate eighties Dick adaptation has to be the story set in a world where genetically-engineered organic robots, indistinguishable from humans, wither and die atop a decaying building. No, not a documentary about County Hall, but Ridley Scott’s Bladerunner. Mindful of this dystopian vision of a rainy neon future, M&C went with a pal to Newport’s Noodle Pot.
Readers of this website may remember M&C pointing out the growing street-food scene in their review of Hong Kong Express on Wheels. One of the early sequences in Bladerunner has Deckard – the hero-protagonist played by Harrison Ford – grabbing a meal of noodles from a street vendor and it was this image that Matt and Cat carried with them as they stepped over the threshold of the Noodle Pot.
The chap behind the counter greeted his new customers in a very friendly way and, although the simple-to-follow menu needed no explanation, he happily showed them the different noodle types. From skinny vermicelli noodles to hefty udon, you choose your noodles then move on to stage two, the filling. A goodly selection of meats and a couple of veggie options were available. Cat, typically unadventurous, chose plain sliced chicken although a chilli chicken version was also on the list. Matt surprisingly chose the same – despite there being two beef offerings – and soba (buckwheat) noodles as the substrate. The smell of the frying food was alluring so M&C quickly stepped up to stage three, the sauce. Cat chose peanut sauce and Matt opted for coriander. Finishing their recipes off with tasty extras – mushrooms and mange tout – they gave their orders to the man and perched on the window ledge while their lunches were rustled up.
Soon a queue had formed – it was lunchtime, after all. People were obviously drawn to the activity and the fabulous aroma of stir-frying. Also, the Noodle Pot is ideally placed to catch those looking for a cooked lunch, being on Newport’s takeaway strip – home to McDonald’s, Stotesbury’s, Ming Garden and Dominoes.
After an appropriate wait, Matt and Cat were handed their neat cardboard boxes of noodles. Taking disposable wooden chopsticks and napkins, they headed out into the street. There was as yet no giant floating screen exhorting them to sign up for a new life in the off-world colonies, so they made do with Newport Parish Council’s information board urging people to enter the town’s Bloomin’ Green competition. Apart from the street noodles, the closest thing to Bladerunner’s vision of 2019 was spring’s relentless rain – and even that had stopped for a moment. This enabled M&C to take their lunches by the delightful flowerbeds in St James’ Square.
Noodles x 2 @ £2.90
Chicken x 2 @ £1.30
Mange tout x 2 @ 80p
Can of 7UP 60p
Opening the boxes released the steamy noodles’ tempting aroma. Pausing to photograph their lunches – a spectacle which drew Gary out of his Plaza Ices sentry box – they finally unsheathed their chopsticks and tucked in.
Cat’s vermicelli noodles were fabulous; delicate yet filling. She was pleased with her choices of chicken, mange tout, mushrooms and peanut sauce. The extras were pretty generous and the dish was excellent value. Matt’s was a substantial and hot treat, with the fresh veg giving it some good texture too. Matt and their companion had both chosen coriander sauce, and both thought that they could have made more flavoursome choices. On further study of the menu, M&C discovered that stock, garlic, chilli and onion were all available at no extra cost, so Matt decided that he’d definitely try some of that next time too. Because there will be a next time. Matt and Cat really enjoyed their noodles – and eating out of a little cardboard box as seen many times in American films and TV shows, is fun!
It takes some confidence to enter Newport’s crowded daytime food market. But with its unique product, good service and jolly graphics, The Noodle Pot may have what it takes. The chap behind the counter told Cat that they’d been busy since day one and, just as she was asking if they had plans to open in the evenings, another customer popped her head round the door and asked the same question! Clearly there’s a demand for the Noodle Pot’s excellent fresh, tasty and nutritious food, and you don’t have to wait until the year 2019 to try it – even if they’re not quite ready to serve you at 20:19hrs yet.