I’d walked past the boarded up space when Soi Noodle Bar was being constructed wondering what it would offer. The signage only stated that it would be Asian Fusion dining and to me that means $$$. Soi Noodle Bar has been open for about a month now and it was about time I went to try it out. On a free Saturday morning and while doing a few other things in the city, I headed in on my own for an early lunch. The eatery has two entrances – inside the Canberra Centre and from Bunda Street. The smooth timber fitted out inside gives the place a sleek and simple look with the only ‘out there’ element being a lightbox artwork of a drawing of a woman.
The menu is mainly focused on Japanese and Thai cuisines. There were so many dishes I wanted to try but I had to remember that it was just me and I wanted dessert afterwards. There are three main noodle dishes on the menu such as pad thai, but they also have a Design-Your-Own-Dish where you pick either noodles (hokkien/rice noodle etc) or rice (steamed/fried/white/brown), then pick your flavour (Thai/Oyster/Black Bean/Malay Satay/Chilli jam etc), then pick your spices and herbs (lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves/crushed garlic and sweet basil etc), then pick your protein (meat/vegetarian/seafood/combination). Prices start from $14. The combinations are endless! There are only four main dishes such as black cod fish and chicken katsu which I found a bit pricey at $22-24. Then there are ‘mini dishes’ or entrees, salads, curries and soups.
I decided on two ‘mini dishes’ for lunch. The seafood pancake ($10) was a must try for me and came out first. This was drizzled with plenty of Japanese mayonnaise and okonomiyaki sauce and topped with bonito flakes. The pan was still quite hot when it came out so I gave it a few minutes to cool down when the next dish arrived.
The Yakitori chicken skewers ($10 for 3) looked glossy and tasty with a bit of chilli powder on the side. The chicken was delicious, succulent and completely coated in a light teriyaki sauce. Very moreish!
Back to the seafood pancake. The pancake itself was soft and very fluffy. There was lots of flavour but I always try to scrape away most of the mayonnaise on top. I was half way through it when I realised I couldn’t actually taste or see any seafood. I could taste lots of cabbage but unless the seafood had been processed/minced into the pancake, it wasn’t noticeable.
Onto dessert. A few other food bloggers had already eaten at this place. I followed Michelle’s (from HerCanberra) advice and ordered the coconut yoghurt with mango and pistachios ($10). When the waiter brought this out, he had a second dessert in hand compliments of the chef. I sure was glad I had just stuck to two mini dishes! Thank you chef!
The coconut yoghurt was topped with coconut flakes and tasted like a mango lassi with a coconut hit. A mango coconut lassi. So good! The yoghurt was light and not too sour, with the mango adding a lovely sweetness. There were small cubes of mango fruit inside and I just loved the crunchy pistachios that gave another textural element to the dessert.
The second dessert was the chocolate mousse with raspberry and mint (usually $10). I’m not sure if this is the full sized dessert as Michelle also had this and it was served in a small glass similar to the coconut yoghurt. But I thought this tasting plate sized dish was super cute and presented beautifully. No complaints about the chocolate mousse which was light as a cloud, chocolatey and not too rich. This was accompanied by raspberry gel with dehydrated and fresh raspberries. You can’t go wrong with chocolate and raspberries! The small crumbly chocolate biscuit was another great element on the dish. The mint on top was very subtle and I had completely forgotten about this third element until now. The dish was definitely more of a chocolate and raspberry dessert.
Out of the two desserts, the coconut yoghurt was my favourite. These are two very different desserts and it does depend on your mood. I was after something light and I love mango lassi, so this mango coconut lassi was the bomb.
Orders are taken and paid for at the counter and I found the majority of staff to be really friendly. I had overheard the table near me ask for tap water which was brought out to them. I asked a different waitress for the same thing but was told I could get it myself. No biggie if it’s self serve. People were slowly trickling in for either dine in or take away lunch. It didn’t take long for the food to come out – about 15 minutes for me and around 10 minutes for the noodle dishes. Yes I know, it’s a noodle bar and I haven’t actually tried the noodles yet. But I’ll get there 🙂 I did feel a bit embarrassed sitting on my own and eating two desserts to myself! I didn’t finish them off as I was too full but thanks again to the chef for the sample.
Soi Noodle Bar is located on Bunda Street opposite Dolce & Salata and the newly opened Mister Zee’s. It’s open seven days a week for lunch and dinner.
Value for money 7/10
FPJ score 21/30
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