Nudo is a small chain of noodle and sushi restaurants, situated across Newcastle and Sunderland. While they have the smaller Sushi Box units across both cities, the Noodle House is located in Low Friar Street, right next door to J-culture merchandise store and fan favourite Animez. I recently gathered with a group of nine others to check out its fare.
Consume – 5/10
Nudo serve a large variety of noodle dishes from all over south east Asia including Japan, China and Thailand, as well as a large variety of sushi, sashimi and a selection of starters and deserts. You can check out the menu here.
I went with the pork cutlet with udon noodles in soup. As I’ve had both pork and beef udon and pork cutlet with rice in Japan this served as a good comparison. The noodles themselves were good quality, nice and thick and came served piping hot. The pork cutlet was cooked just right for my personal taste and had a nice amount of meat content. The soup was pretty standard too, but there was something lacking. Typically in ramen dishes you have a good side of salad, seaweed, some egg and maybe some extra meat chucked in, but apart from a small amount of salad this was completely missing. While I’m not a sucker for seaweed, I did miss these extras that truly complete a good bowl of ramen – this was just a simple, plain bowl of noodles with meat chucked on top. There was nothing bad about it, but there was nothing really standing out either.
Despite this my fellow group members gave the thumbs up to their orders, although some of the desserts, such as the deep fried chocolate filled rice balls, left a lot to be desired.
Drinks offered were a range of soft drinks, tea and sake. Unfortunately the drinks menu is not available online to check at the time of this review.
Service – 2/10
When it came to service for a large group, the staff at Nudo seemed to be overwhelmed. The place is quite small, so a wait was understandable, but there was a very long waiting time to actually get a table. Thankfully they do have a seating area where you can sit and chat and have some drinks before your meal. They were quite slow bringing out the drinks, which set the tone for the whole service experience.
After ordering food and finally getting seat, there wasn’t that much of a wait to bring out the noodles, but unfortunately they completely missed out three orders. While it was quite a simple mistake, it damaged the overall experience and made a couple of group members quite irritable. Indeed, I had finished my bowl of noodles before they brought out the missing ones.
While the staff member who looked like a supervisor or manager was okay, some staff members seemed rather timid and hard to approach. While in some western restaurants, constant badgering by waiters can be annoying, this was on the completely other end of the scale. This wasn’t bad, per say, but it made making requests somewhat difficult.
Be aware that we were lumbered with a service charge, which worked out at £1.20 per person, although it wasn’t clear if this was a standard charge or just for a large group.
In terms of atmosphere, the dark wood panels of the interior create a comfortable and homely feel, and the place is generally clean and welcoming. Its small size generates a feeling of closeness and privacy and does offer a good place to chat over noodles.
If not for the service issues the overall experience would have been fair and is certainly more suitable for coming along in twos, threes or fours rather than a large group of ten.
Value for Money – 4/10
Prices are typical for this type of specialist restaurant, with noodles averaging in the £6 – £7 range, and the majority of drinks around £2 and specialist drinks like sake being at a considerable premium. What you get is just enough to justify the price, but other more mainstream restaurants do offer more for similar prices, just not with this amount of diversity.
The service charge does bump up the overall cost, which wasn’t justifiable with the poor service experience for the group.
Overall – 3.75/10
What’s clear from my experience is that this is not a place to take a large group of people. It’s size is not suited for it and the staff’s approach and mistakes show that they don’t get that many people coming in at once very often, if at all.
I must say though that just because our experience was marred, don’t let that put you off if you want a more close and specialist experience to noodles in comparison to somewhere more mass market like Wagamama. The variety on offer is Nudo’s key asset and is a relatively good place to stop for lunch.
So don’t avoid, but don’t raise your expectations too high, especially if you are a ramen lover. If it’s true Japanese style ramen you are after, you’re unlikely to find it here.