Mention fried ice cream and you’ll probably picture something dreamed up in a Scottish chippy, a sort of battered baked Alaska.
However, at Noodle Inn Hot Pot at162 London Road there’s no vat of boiling oil in sight, just a really clever idea to let customers make their own dessert.
Many people who frequent the many Asian restaurants of London Road will by now will have tried one of the hot pot places.
The diner gets two pots of bubbling hot stock on the table in from of them and can choose a range of foods to cook in them.
It’s great fun for a group and soon everyone is putting their favourites in the pot and waiting eagerly to try them. You also eat the soup.
However, Noodle Inn Hot Pot have gone two steps further and use a clever table with built-in devices that allow diners to try a hot pot, a barbecue and the ice cream.
My friend Janet and I found this out by accident when another restaurant was closed. The Noodle Inn Hot Pot has a midweek ‘all you can eat’ offer to try all three for £18.80.
Our waitress quickly found out that we were hot pot novices and expertly and patiently guided us.
She is an absolute gem and a credit to the Hallam University’s hospitality management courses. If her boss David Chan has any sense he’ll give her a top job in his expanding empire.
She advised us to try two different soup stocks, Chinese herb flavour and the spicy Thai-style tom yam.
Tom yam packs plenty of chilli heat but there is is a more spicy stock, plus a plainer broth and one with preserved vegetables.
The list of very fresh ingredients is pretty long and diners can try as many as they like and re-order.
It includes meats, fish and seafood, Chinese vegetables and fungi , a range of noodles and rice cakes and tofu and beancurd.
There are great sauces as well. We tried sweet chilli and Sichuan with the soup and a peanut-based satay-style sauce for the barbecue.
Another similarly long list covers the barbecue options. The table has two built-in stoves and a circle of heatproof paper was placed in the barbecue well and oil was brushed on to it.
The food is just placed on top and away you go.
This is a meal to linger over as some of the cooking times are 25 minutes.
We thoroughly enjoyed mussels, cuttlefish, white fish, pak choi, broccoli, enoki mushrooms, king prawns, bamboo, scallops…
I liked the beancurd and fishballs but Janet wasn’t so keen. She’s a non-meat eater so didn’t try the delicious thin-sliced lamb that cooks almost instantly.
The barbecue kept everything, especially fish and seafood, beautifully tender. Prawns were really good.
The ice cream is produced in the barbecue pit, once cleaned. It becomes a chiller and turns a glass of sweetened milk into an icy treat that you make by repeatedly moving about with a spatula. Fresh fruit or sweet treats are added near the end. It was great fun and tasted lovely and fresh.
A very entertaining evening. Our bill came to £49.20 with beers.