It’s fair to say that shopping centre food courts are not widely known for serving up fresh and tasty meals. Bland cups of tea and stale slices of cake served on sticky trays are the standard choices in many such places.
I was suitably chuffed then to discover a notable exception in The Howgate. Chozen Noodle, which can be found next to the Moodog hot dog takeaway, offers a wide range of Asian-influenced streetfood and familiar Oriental favourites.
If you’re a not a fan of spicy foods, or are just after a snack between shop visits, it also sells a tempting range of milkshakes and some truly historic donuts.
A well-known brand in shopping malls south of the border, Chozen Noodle has been brought to Falkirk by Sandra Robson, a friendly Northumberland lass with extensive experience in the catering business.
She tells me it’s been a hit with shoppers since its opening last year.
I went along to find out why with my colleague Scott McAngus, who is an expert on the far east. Well, he did use to work in Haddington.
Regular readers of this column might recall that the last time I visited a Falkirk restaurant for a review, I mentioned that my choice of dining partner had ruffled some feathers at Herald Towers. In short, Scott took the hump because I didn’t invite him. Looking to make amends, I made sure he was alongside me this time around.
Given the quality of our meal, I think I might just be forgiven.
I opted for beef red Thai curry, while Scott chose an Indian-style chicken curry. We both agreed to order a range of side dishes as well, purely in the name of accurate reporting, of course. After much deliberation, we went for panko prawns, lamb samosa and both chicken and vegetable gyozas - that’s a variety of Chinese pan-fried dumpling, which I’m reliably told is also hugely popular in Japan.
Scott raved about the panko prawns - in fact, more than two weeks after we visited, he’s still going on about how crispy the batter was and how much he enjoyed the accompanying spicy sauce.
I was similarly impressed with the lamb samosa, which had just enough of a spicy kick.
The main dishes were both generous in size and speedily served. In fact, they were so good, I’ll be making a point of returning in the coming weeks.
If you’re in a hurry and looking for a unique lunch in town, then this is the place to go.
The Howgate, High Street, Falkirk