The first thing that attracted me to El Rey de Tallarines in Madrid was the interior. I’m guessing they took over what had been a seafood restaurant, and changed nothing. The whole place is covered with chunky mosaics of exotic beachy landscapes, and outside the bathrooms is a giant clamshell washbasin – the overall effect is magnificently kitsch. This might sound overwhelming, but the restaurant is big and airy, so it’s actually really enjoyable.
My son and I would have lunch here pretty much every Saturday when he was little, as our treat together after shopping in the nearby Mostenses market. Almost every time we’d get to see the wonderful spectacle of fresh noodles being made; stretched and thumped out of a piece of dough in minutes – pure magic.
Recently I’ve started going again, and I am so happy to report that nothing has changed. The food is still consistently amazing. I love the noodles, of course, and you have to try them – nothing beats fresh, homemade pasta! The Thai curries are also exceptional, fragrant and spicy. My favourite is the fresh asparagus red curry; it’s cooked perfectly, so that the vegetables still have some crunch.
In a big city, where you’re a foreigner, people you know substitute family. When the King of the Noodles greeted me like an old friend after my absence of nearly 10 years, it was nice to see his smiling face. It felt like coming home, and I wondered why I hadn’t been in so long!