The first thing that one notices upon entering Núðluhúsið is a small handwritten sign proclaiming ‘Free coffee!’ hanging directly over a pot of said liquid. As we were about to find out, the free coffee is the sort of watery slop commonly found at your average construction-site cafeteria and takes extravagant amounts of sugar and milk to get to the point of drinkability. But that is beside the point: Núðluhúsið does not claim to be a café and, more importantly, the coffee is free – an excellent service to provide patrons with while they wait, or after a hearty meal. And the meals we experienced at Núðluhúsið were indeed hearty.
We visited this small, stripped-down restaurant late on a Wednesday evening and were surprised by the number of patrons who passed through during our stay. Although the atmosphere was pleasant, this is the sort of place where one comes to eat on-the-go and it prices itself accordingly. It is both notable and commendable that no single course will set you back more than 990 ISK, and most of them come cheaper. Even the beer is priced lower than at comparable establishments. The clientele seems to consist mainly of tourists looking for a cheap meal and locals fetching take-away food. Aiming to sample a range of the restaurant’s menu, we ordered cashew chicken, strips of lamb in a very spicy sauce and Thai-style pad-Thai noodles. Suffice to say that all of the dishes met our standards. The cashew chicken was pleasantly tender and juicy and the vegetables seemed to be fresh, as was the case with the rest of our orders. Providing a pleasingly hot aftertaste, our only complaint was that it could have done with more cashews.
The pad-Thai noodles were also surprisingly spicy (many Icelandic Thai restaurants tone down spice to accommodate natives’ inexperienced taste buds) and had the bonus of being of the non-greasy variety. The combination of shrimp, eggs and crushed salty peanuts was pleasing to the extent that we oversampled and had little room for the final course.
The menu certainly did not lie about the strips of lamb having a spicy sauce. It made us sweat. We still managed to taste the distinct flavour of fresh ingredients. Overall, Núðluhúsið seemed well-suited for those seeking authentic Thai cooking while operating on a shoestring budget. HM