C&I Noodle Kitchen, previously Mr Happy Chef, is a busy noodle shop in the basement level of Hunter Connection. Connecting Wynyard Station and Hunter Street in the Sydney CBD, this arcade is regularly frequented by office workers searching for a lunchtime feed. I was served by the lady at the counter who is always very animated and eager to take your order. C&I Noodle Kitchen is definitely up to the task of feeding its lunch time rush and is usually filled to capacity by hungry office workers. Serving up generous bowls of noodles and a wide variety of rice dishes, this shop is best known for its wonton noodle soups and laksas heavy enough to knock out the most experienced noodle eaters.
For lunch, I ordered the Spicy Beef & Wonton Laksa, perhaps the heaviest of their laksas. The noodle soup consisted of slow-cooked spiced beef, six wontons and vermicelli noodles (though you can also choose hokkien, flat rice or egg noodles if you prefer) in a rich, sweet coconut based soup. The dish was topped with coriander, bean sprouts, fried onions and spring onions.
The soup was what gave this dish it’s knockout effect, being heavy in coconut cream and spice. I was cautious when drinking the soup as I have found bits of star anise in it previously (I didn’t this time). I found the soup initially to be too sweet for my liking so I added some chilli oil to balance out the saltiness and sweetness.
There was a generous portion of beef heavily spiced, as the name suggests, with star anise and allspice. Though there seemed to be an entire cow in this soup, I found the beef pieces to be a bit over-cooked, holding together a bit too well and getting caught in my teeth. It would have been more enjoyable if the beef was better cooked and more tender. The pieces they use are also quite fatty which does much good for the flavour of the dish but not ideal for someone on a diet!
The wontons were really what completed this dish for me. They felt homemade and gave the noodle soup a rustic taste. The wonton skin did not fall apart and held in the generous pork and prawn filling. For me, they’re worth the extra dollar over the plain spicy beef laksa noodle soup.
Overall, this was a very satisfying laksa and I always feel like taking a nap afterwards! I’ll continue coming here for more South-east Asian delights as I find their portion sizes to be large given their average pricing.
This meal cost $11.80. They are cash-only but there’s an ATM by the escalator nearby.