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Published May 31st 2018
Asian fusion in the heart of the city
Soi Noodle Bar is a casual Asian-fusion restaurant located on the busy Bunda Street, in the centre of Canberra city. Bunda Street has a wide range of restaurant choices along its length to choose from, however Soi Noodle Bar is always full of people for lunch, dinner and every other time in between. It specialises in a wide range of Asian cuisines including creative mini-dishes, noodles, salads, curries, soups, slushies and colourful desserts.
When you first walk into Soi Noodle Bar there is a counter where you place your order, making it feel like a combination of a takeaway eatery and a modern restaurant. Above the counter, there is a menu to choose from, as well as a "specials" list on the counter which included (on our visit) Vietnamese Pho, Singapore coffee and sweet desserts. As you stand there deciding on what to order, it is hard to ignore the striking Japanese artwork at the end of the restaurant, the lanterns above your head and wooden beams angled over the restaurant. The overall effect of the decor, smells from the kitchen, background music and the welcoming staff, make this a comfortable place to relax as soon as you walk in the door.
On a chilly winter lunchtime, my family and I ventured inside to warm up with some hot food and sit along the front window, to watch the world go by. It was hard to decide on what to order from all of the delicious options on the menu - so much so that we mentally made a list of all the things we wanted to try for next time! In the end, we ordered two bowls of steaming hot chicken ramen - which is a Japanese soup with tender meat, boiled egg, noodles, mushrooms, nori and a delicious broth made of bones and spices. This belly-warming soup was just what we felt like on such a cold winter's day.
Our young daughter chose a stir-fry with hokkein noodles, chicken and oyster sauce, which we ordered from the Design Your Own Dish menu to her liking - minus the spices and herbs. When the meals came out, just a quick 5 minutes later, we all "oohed" and "aahed" about the generosity of the serves and the smells wafting from each steaming bowl.
Design Your Own Dish - hokkein noodles, oyster sauce and chicken ($15). When it was delivered, the waitress kindly gave us a plastic bowl for our daughter so it could be shared. She loved it!
Ramen is a dish that I have only just discovered, as my soup of choice has always been Malaysian Laksa and more recently, Vietnamese Pho. The ramen at Soi Noodle Bar hit the spot - the broth was rich with chicken and mushroom flavour, the meat was melt-in-the-mouth, the noodles were tasty and the corn and mushrooms in the soup gave a subtle blend of flavour and sweetness. I didn't want the bowl to finish! Although I have tried ramen a few times, I was particularly impressed with the comforting flavour combination of the Soi Noodle Bar version. How can you not be impressed, when they have their own name printed on the nori on the side of the bowl?
Chicken broth ramen noodle soup with chicken, wakame, nori, chopped shallot, bamboo shoot, boiled egg and fish cake ($15)
It is easy to see how Soi Noodle Bar is constantly busy with local workers, couples and singles all week long. The table configuration makes it easy for people to visit on their own - with side-by-side seating down the middle and a long bar table by the window. The rest of the restaurant has tables for two and a couple of tables for four, making it the ideal place to stop in for dinner before going to the movies, or a night on the town. For our family, we were so impressed that we will be back for lunchtime, dinnertime - and all the other times in between!
Why don't you give Soi Noodle Bar a try this weekend? The meals are so good, you are sure to walk out with your own list of meals you want to try next time. This is our list, below...yum!
Massaman Curry - A mild sweet Thai curry with beef, coconut milk, onions, potatoes & roasted peanuts. It also has rice on the side. $15. Image: Soi Noodle Bar Facebook
Spanner Crab Buns (Spanner crab mix with mayonnaise, tobiko & house pickled red onion) and Lamb Buns (Spicy slow cooked lamb mixed with cabbage spicy mayonnaise & jalapeno). $15 for 3 buns. Image: Soi Noodle Bar Facebook