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PRON Restaurant (People’s Republic of Noodles)

PRON Restaurant (People’s Republic of Noodles)
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Cost
R85
Ambience
Comfy & casual, Contemporary cool
Food
Asian, Vegetarian
Payment
Mastercard, Visa

Critic's review

Ishay Govender-Ypma

Food
PRON, The People’s Republic of Noodles, is as tongue-in-cheek and fun a restaurant as the name suggests, which adds to Linden’s reputation as a foodie haven. Chef-restaurateur Emma Chen (of upmarket Red Chamber in Hyde Park) serves Chinese food from her childhood here – unpretentious and generous – to a packed restaurant of grateful patrons.

The spring-onion-flecked hand-break bread is the best way to start, as you pore over the small menu, which is divided into tapas and noodles. Both sections are perfect for sharing, and the orders arrive with rapid-fire speed. The refreshing cucumber salad is served in wedges with shredded tofu and has a chilli kick that builds in intensity. The pig-ear salad, a lovely combination of crunchy, savoury and herbal, is a classic made with care and often recommended by a smiling chef Chen, who can be seen doing the rounds between tables in the evenings.

The tender char sui pork slices and the fried green beans are a great choice, adorned with home-made chilli oil served on each table. Bowls of noodles are enormous and often enough for two if you’re also sharing a range of tapas. The cold summer beef noodles and the vegetarian bowl with chewy seaweed are favourites. For dessert order the fabulous chocolate tart with chilli.

Drinks
There’s a small wine list and a few quirky cocktails and beers, like the Lucky Buddha in a bottle fashioned after its namesake. Roasted coconut water and aloe juice are good options for teetotallers.

Service
Service is fast, bright and efficient most nights.

Ambience
This is a fun, loud spot with flowery red plastic tablecloths and a wall of “made-in-China” products. It’s kitsch but cool, and fills up with tables of friends and lovers.

And...
It’s best to book in advance. The items in the wall of goodies, which range from packets of White Rabbit sweets to soy sauce and chopsticks, are all for sale.

(September 2016)

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  • Food
  • Rupesh Kassen

    Emma Chen, chef and owner of the renowned The Red Chamber in Hyde Park, is now recreating food from her childhood in her new establishment, PRON, the People’s Republic of Noodles. Expect a small menu with dishes that don’t normally make an appearance on the average Chinese menu, so nothing is deep fried or smothered in sweet-and-sour sauce.

    Food
    Emma will guide you on choices to suit you palate and explain the concept of this street-food-style menu. Small tapas dishes and hearty homemade noodle dishes are perfectly designed for sharing. A serving of the ‘hand-break-bread’, a layered, flaky flatbread filled with fresh spring onion and salt, is an absolute must. (We couldn’t help devouring the first one before the food came, knowing full well that it was intended as an accompaniment to the other dishes.) This is the stuff bread dreams are made of!

    It was followed by three outstanding dishes: Szechuan-chilli chicken with peanut sauce and sprouts; dry-fried green beans with black-bean paste; and the intriguing pig-ear salad. I’m all for trying everything once, and enjoyed the taste and the interesting texture of the pig’s ear, which was thinly sliced and marinated, served cold, and mixed with a coriander salad – perfect for the adventurous palate. Vegetarians can try the tofu and cucumber; potato salad with a twist; or the tofu noodles with leek.

    The handmade noodles are the true legend here – the perfect consistency of al-dente noodles served with of a hearty broth of tofu and vegetables, pork or spicy beef. My top choice is the Chaashou pork, comprising slices of marinated, barbeque-style pork with a clear broth, topped with spring onion and a generous helping of homemade chili oil. It’s perfect comfort food to warm the soul. The restaurant is only a few weeks old, so Emma is still working on dessert options to end the meal. She also assured me that the menu will change regularly.

    Drinks
    The wine list is compact and well-priced, with a few well-known wines available by the carafe. There’s only one beer on the menu, the Lucky Buddha, in its cool Buddha-shaped bottle. Also on offer are a few interesting cocktails, like the Manchurian scorpion and five-star frosted martini, as well as exotic drinks like roasted coconut juice and aloe juice.

    Service
    Emma is ever-present, moving between the restaurant and kitchen, making you feel welcome, and explaining her dishes. Attentive and well-trained staff members assist her in making sure you have a seamless culinary experience.

    Ambience
    This is a quirky, brightly coloured and fun space, filled with shelves stocked with Asian ingredients that can be purchased. A large bookcase crammed with toys and goodies that can best be described as ‘Made in China’ lines one of the walls.

    And…
    They have a private dining room down a magic staircase, which is ideal for a cosy dinner party. It seats 10 people, with mirrored walls and a lazy Suzan to facilitate sharing.

User reviews

  • Red Chamber is an Asian-food institution in Joburg.  Every time I crave some good, traditional, wholesome Chinese, I wheel on over to Hyde Park Corner.  Owner of Red Chamber, Emma Chen, has now opened a second restaurant in the trendy suburb, Linden.  PRON (People’s republic of noodles) is an artwork. The décor is bright, slightly oddball and fun.  It makes you smile as soon as you walk in. The menu is divided into two parts:  Tapas and Noodles, with a good number of low carb and vegetarian dishes amongst the noodle dishes. We decided to order mostly from the tapas menu and added some plain noodles to go with the meat tapas. The best dishes of the night: The hand-break bread.  This is a flaky, warm flatbread that’s somewhere between naan and a croissant. Tofu and cucumber salad. It was fresh and crunchy with an amazing secret dressing. I often find tofu chewy but the tofu in this dish was tender and tasty. Wood ear salad with garlic and chilli.  Wood ear is a special Chinese mushroom that tastes a little like a mushroom-seaweed hybrid.  Apparently very healthy and delicious.  I’d rush back just to have this dish again. Chicken with red chilli oil.   The stir-fried chicken is tender with fresh spring onion and other veggies. Fish slices with five flavours. The first bite of this is a bit unusual but it just gets better and better as the flavours unfold. The homemade noodles were divine.  I’d go back for a full noodle meal in a broth some time.  Often Chinese noodles have a slightly slimy texture but these were perfectly al-dente. For the more adventurous Emma recommends the pig’s ear salad which is literally pigs ear (not a metaphor!).  She also said the dry fried green beans is a signature dish which is very popular. The wine list is small but of adequate standard and the service was quick, helpful and friendly.  It’s a lovely space to visit and you leave wholly satisfied and without too much guilt after getting lots of fresh, beautiful ingredients.
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  • I was very excited when PRON opened up, especially as it was being touted as a healthy asian option. I work nearby so I would have frequented it if I had found them more accommodating as I have dietary limits. I dont eat tofu and the vegetarian options are extremely limited. I had the only veg option sans tofu twice and wanted something different, as it is not a great dish. When I called and asked if it was possible to make a simple veg stir fry the owner told me to go to her restaurant in Hyde Park and wasn't interested in making a once off veg stir fry. It's a pity as i regularly order from restaurants during the week and would have been a regular if I had been able to get something that I could eat.
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  • The last time that I frequented one of Emma Chen's restaurants in Hyde Park, I wasn't all that impressed... Red Chamber in Hyde Park I thought had lost its sparkle. But, after 26 years in the industry, Emma has gone back to her roots and opened up PRON (Peoples Republic of Noodles) with this neighbourhood local, serving only authentic North Chinese food - healthy, simple and fresh food in good portion sizes that are easy on the pocket. YES! Onto the food: To start, the traditional hand-break bread, then beef noodle soup & the Sichuan chilli chicken noodles. The beef noodle soup was delicious, and the broth was surprisingly flavoursome and full of veggies. The chilli chicken noodles were spicy (and really not for the faint hearted) but so tasty that I just could not stop eating - the perfect detox to clear out those sinuses ;). All in all, such a wonderful evening and I will be back to try their recommended spicy beef noodles soon! *Recommendation: Be sure to try their Asian-style Lucky Buddha lager!! Its a winner!
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  • A gem in Linden - no deep fried, sauce-soaked pork in sight. The waiters could answer questions about the food and Emma was on hand to also offer suggestions and tell us about future plans. I'd recommend the hand-break-bread but order more (and thank me later). For starters, my favourite was the shaved beef with plum chilli sauce, while the Chashao Pork Soup Noodles for mains won.
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  • Fantastic cosy restaurant with excellent food ! Emma Chen has done it again with her authentic Chinese cuisine .
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Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Dinner
  • Food
  • Lunch
  • Parking
  • Serves food
  • Takeaways

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