With twenty-one restaurants under her belt, Rose Morton decided to retire from the bright lights, and set up a little restaurant on the Gold Coast: The Noodle House on Chevron Island.
Born in Koh Samui, the idyllic island off the coast of the Thai mainland, Rose had worked for many years on cruise ships before marrying, and opening restaurants in Brisbane, including the famous Thai Rose in Woolloongabba. The Noodle House is Rose’s gift to her daughter Belinda and the next generation of her extended family, where she teaches them her own recipes perfected over years of cooking professionally.
Rose is, in every sense, the Maitre d’, watching over the preparation, cooking and service in this slick little operation. She greets diners by name, stopping for a little chat, as almost all of the customers are regulars, savvy enough to appreciate great value stunningly fresh food, all prepared by hand that day.
“If you’re going to serve people, it has to be fresh,” says Rose. “When you cook, you must be honest about it, and put love and care into your cooking. There’s no cutting corners. You have to be genuine, not greedy. If you say your fish is barramundi, then it has to be barramundi, not something cheaper.”
The kitchen may only be ‘hole in the wall’ in size, but the meals are quickly and efficiently prepared and served. If you walk past the restaurant before opening hours, the sound of chopping drifts out to the street, as vegetables are cut ready for dinner, the tiny kitchen overflowing with eager young chefs, toiling under Rose’s ever watchful eye.
From soon after 5pm, patrons start appearing to buy their take away meals, and not long after, the first diners arrive. There’s a large choice of Thai regional dishes: entrées and mains, soup, noodles and rice dishes, as well as house specialties and a specials board. In a way, the menu reminds me of Sing’s of Rosalie, where your choice of meat can be combined with noodles or rice. With main courses ranging in price from $12.90 to $21.90, it’s fantastic value for such tasty food.
We’ve eaten here alfresco a number of times, sitting at white-clothed tables on the sidewalk, the aromas of Thailand drifting out to meet us, the babble of happy diners surrounding us. Each time, we’ve encountered friends who regularly dine here. After the movies, or once a fortnight, they return to this casually comfortable café for a meal on their way home.
Already, we’ve established firm favourites on the menu: Prawn cakes for entrée (a delicate alternative to the excellent fish cakes served here), BBQ Duck Rice Paper Rolls filled with succulent duck and crisp vegetables, spicy Tom Yum Prawns, Wonton soup, Grilled Barramundi on Wok-tossed Vegetables, and when they’re on the Specials Board, two huge Moreton Bay Bugs, either Grilled with garlic or smothered in delicious Panang Curry.
Rose comments on the changes to Chevron Island since she set up shop three years ago. “When I came to Chevron Island, there was nothing. Now it’s amazing!” Although Chevron has become a trendy place to hang out, ‘to see and be seen’, Rose says that most of her customers just come to enjoy the food and relax with friends.
She says that she chose this tiny street corner premises because it was nice and quiet, with plenty of parking. Yes, there are some quieter nights and parking is still reasonably easy, but the refurbishment of the main street will bring further changes to the dynamics of this island precinct. One gets the feeling, however, that The Noodle House’s patronage will stay true; that this little restaurant will always be busy.
So what does Rose see as the secret of her success?
“In the end,” Rose says, “you have to be fair. You have to give to your customers and put yourself last.”
Gazing into the night sky, senses full, I half expect to see lit paper lanterns drifting over the ocean. But no… although we are a long way from Koh Samui, Rose’s legacy is her promise that the food served at The Noodle House will be authentic: “Every time you come here, you will get good Thai food; always fresh, good value, top quality.”
Shop 7/64 Thomas Drive, Chevron Island Ph: 07 5538 1699