NBS Big Bowl (牛百歲) is not the most non-Chinese friendly noodle restaurant in Burwood, but perhaps one of the best. Tucked in an alleyway in the general Burwood Chinatown precinct (though isn’t all of Burwood a Chinatown?) across from the plaza, this tiny eatery with limited daily serves of food has perfected the art of beef noodles, though not the art of accommodating non-Chinese reading customers. Their main noodle menu is written behind the counter in Chinese with no English language menu or photos available, making their food extremely difficult to order. The only foods accessible to your regular Aussie battler (or Chinese immigrant who never learned to read or write) is what’s pictured on the front door and subtitled with English language – some lamb ribs and some pork hock.
The fourth item on the menu, 精品牛雜粉丝汤 – premium beef offal vermicelli soup ($14.99), was recommended on social media and I’m glad it was. Even though I had to order by showing them a photo of what I wanted, the lady serving me didn’t look too fazed – this has probably happened a bit in recent days. Service was extremely fast, and in the time it took for me to get cash out at the nearby ATM my giant bowl of noodles was ready to eat.
The soup was rich, beefy, and complex, having absorbed not only the beef flavours but also the organ flavours and the fresh vegetable flavours from the bok choy. Along with the several types of tripe there is also a large piece of stewed beef, which was extremely tender and tasty. The vermicelli, which I don’t normally go for, was delicious and a good vehicle for the flavours of the soup. Coriander and chilli oil was available for self serve, and I made sure to fill mine up with as much coriander as I could. Even my mother, upon seeing this photo, remarked that it looked tasty. Haters of organs will not enjoy this dish, but those who are willing to try will be duly rewarded.
I ordered the cumin lamb ribs ($15), one of the only things with a photo and some English words, so that I wouldn’t have to keep confirming to the waitress that I was a failed Asian. Even though I would’ve liked to explore the rest of their Chinese menu, I was quite satisfied with these cumin lamb ribs, which were again very tender and flavourful. It was a bit weird that they served them to us in a plastic takeaway container, but the taste and the price, and the addition of some chilli oil made it all worth it.
There’s probably a huge untapped business idea in making an electronic menu for these Chinese restaurants with no English menu and no pictures. I just can’t even speak enough Chinese to even convey this idea to them. Anyway NBS is good. Either bring a Chinese-reading friend (just being Chinese isn’t enough) or bring this blog post to show them what you want.
NBS Big Bowl Burwood 牛百歲
Shop 2/38-40 Railway Parade, Burwood NSW 2134
0498 286 888