Stefan Borchardt, brand chef of The Noodle House, talks satay, menu revamps and how the homegrown F&B brand’s presence is growing stronger with four upcoming branch openings in the pipeline.
What’s trending in the F&B industry and how are you integrating these developments into menus at The Noodle House?
Street food is a trend that we’ve seen picking up pace during recent years and demand in the UAE reflects this, especially when it comes to Asian cuisine – Asian drinks in specific, as these are not easily found here.
It’s exciting to see Filipino cuisine’s increasing popularity across Dubai. The Noodle House has had numerous dishes from the Philippines on the menu since opening and we continue to develop these to adapt to tastes, while ensuring we stay true to their authenticity.
To ensure that we continue to stay ahead of food trends, I travelled to Asia earlier this year with my team as part of the Asian Soul Tour to delve deep into the Asian street food scene. This was a fantastic opportunity as I was able to discover new ingredients that could be incorporated into The Noodle House’s menu while respecting UAE diners’ taste palates.
Tell us about the most exciting creations you’ll be bringing to the four branches that are set to open?
I can tell you what will drastically change soon – the recipe for our satays! While I was on tour in Asia, I learnt the perfect way to marinate and grill the chicken in a street food market in Singapore. It was interesting to see the grilling time, and the fact that they added pineapple purée inside the peanuts’.
The team and I are incredibly excited to be expanding into communities we feel a strong attachment to. The brand will debut new restaurants in Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) next month, Nakheel Mall on The Palm Jumeirah in September 2019 and the upcoming Dubai Hills Mall in February 2020.
The trio of Dubai openings will extend the brand’s empire and ‘sticks-hands-spoon’ mantra to eight restaurants in the city. In the fourth quarter of 2020, The Noodle House will open at Reem Mall on Reem Island.
The JBR venue is particularly exciting as it’ll have that lively street vibe reminiscent of the street food scene across Asian hotspots and food markets. The Nakheel area is expected to blossom into a new hub once the development is completed with its own micro community and we’re keen to be a part of this community’s soul and spirit right from the start with the Asian soul food that the brand is committed to offering.
Abu Dhabi offers a lot of opportunity as we’ve seen a burgeoning demand for more casual dining concepts and an increased interest in Asian cuisine.
The Noodle House has been championing sustainability initiatives, how do you plan on continuing to do so?
At The Noodle House, we always look to source Asian ingredients from local growers or distributors, and when necessary direct from Asia when products aren’t directly available locally to complement the menu. About 30-50 percent of products, such as ginger, peppers, tomatoes, lettuce and green herbs are presently sourced locally. A lot of products are also sourced through new vertical farming methods.
In fact, I’m currently in the process of working with a local Emirati farm to grow Vietnamese coriander, also known as laksa leaves. The aroma is completely different and quite intense, but equally as important is that, by using methods such as vertical farming, we’re reducing our carbon footprint further.
When it comes to championing sustainability initiatives, The Noodle House was among the first homegrown F&B brands to weigh into the plastic pollution issue by removing plastic straws across its entire operations in February 2018. Paper and vegetable straws are now offered on request.
This year, as part of our ongoing commitment to reduce waste, ease strain on landfills and minimise environmental impact, the brand partnered with Vegware – the international compostable packaging leader – to roll out green packaging solutions across The Noodle House’s home delivery and takeaway operations.
What are the bestsellers on your menu now?
The Singapore noodles and curry laksa are definitely all-time favourites at The Noodle House – I promise I will never change the recipe. I’ve even been asked to pack these dishes for some Asian guests who wanted to travel with them to their home country.
What are some key moments of your F&B journey?
The revamp of our menu and its relaunch in 2018 were key highlights for me as we introduced a range of specials right from the vibrant hawker stands of Singapore to the bustling street markets of Jakarta. Additionally, the restaurant redesign really gives customers the look and feel of authentic Asian cuisine.
In three words, what can diners expect from The Noodle House in the upcoming years?
When it comes to The Noodle House in specific, I can say accessible locations, authenticity, and fun food. There are a number of exciting projects in the pipeline for The Noodle House as we continue to invigorate and invest in the brand.
Launched in Dubai in 2002, The Noodle House is operated by JRG Dubai, one of the emirate’s homegrown restaurant management companies.