Lunch at the Cupping Room

It had been a while since I visited the celebrated cafe, mainly because it’s so popular the wait queues are ridiculously long on the weekends. Luckily for me, I had a Thursday off work so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to visit the cafe during less busy times. Unfortunately I went a couple weeks before they launched their Spring menu, so a few of the items below are no longer available (the salted caramel and popcorn milkshake and fruit toast still are!)… but you can still ogle at the photos!

Salted Caramel and Popcorn Milkshake

Salted caramel has probably become one of the most popular dessert flavours over the past few years, and I can totally see why.  It’s that combination of sugar and salt that makes it so moorish. Surprisingly, I took a while to drink the entire milkshake as I was preoccupied by the amount of food we’d ordered, but as it sat there waiting to be drunk, the popcorn itself soaked up the liquid while the caramel coating remained crunchy. Each popcorn sort of turned into some crunchy explosion of salted popcorn milkshake. The milkshake itself was really thick too, so it remained cold until the end. It is very sweet, but what else can you expect from a salted caramel milkshake?

pop-shake

Red Velvet Milkshake

Basically a decadent chocolate milkshake accompanied by a classic red cherry on top, this was absolutely delicious. My friend ordered this one and as soon as I had a sip, I was instantly jealous—this was definitely my favourite between the two milkshakes. It wasn’t overly sweet and there were little chunks of chocolate in amongst the smooth and slightly tangy milkshake—I believe it had a bit of sour cream in it. Unfortunately this isn’t available in their Spring menu, but maybe we can petition to get it back?

redvelvet-shake

Charshu Pork

A thirty six hour sous-vide pork belly dish that came with garlic puree, half a soy boiled egg, dollops of kewpie mayo, crunchy charred cabbage and a salmon rice cake. The pork was relatively tender but there was a bit too much fat that hadn’t cooked away or rendered down—I’m pretty easy when it comes to pork belly but I do prefer crispy or rendered skin over solid fat. Apart from this, I couldn’t fault any of the other elements. The cabbage was still crunchy and had a good savoury flavour. The egg was slightly over runny (which I prefer), but my favourite component was the salmon rice cake. It had a crunchy exterior and a soft and flavoursome interior which went really well with the creamy kewpie.

pork

Baked Eggs

The Cupping Room’s baked eggs came with mushroom, silver-beet, leek and double brie, and olive tapenade and toasted sourdough on the side. The baked eggs itself had a super intense mushroomy, savoury, salty flavour, so I thought the olive tapenade was unnecessary as a side dish. The brie helped cut through the intensity of the mushrooms and was a nice addition. I was expecting the dish to come with more sauce to mop up with the freshly toasted bread, but it was actually quite dry. Despite this, it was still a really tasty dish.

bakedeggs

Pumpkin

This was the one dish I came to the Cupping Room for after seeing a post on Instagram (I swear I don’t spend THAT much time on the gram…). This dish consisted of herb-crusted roasted pumpkin, lentils, quinoa, cottage cheese, pickled heirloom radish, orange segments, roasted pepitas and lemon and tahini vinaigrette. With three huge wedges of tender roasted pumpkin, it was more substantial than I initially anticipated. The cottage cheese didn’t add much in terms of taste, and because the other elements weren’t inherently salty I would have preferred some feta or pan-fried halloumi to lift it’s flavour profile. I thought the pickled radishes and orange segments were a really nice addition as they added level of sweet tanginess to the dish.

pumpkin2

Hotcakes

I’m not a huge fan of sweet breakfasts, but my friends insisted on ordering this dish. The dish came with two thick hotcakes, apple and rhubarb jam, a dollop of orange marscarpone, granola and Canadian maple syrup. The hotcakes themselves were fluffy and the granola had a nice spiced flavour but it had bits of dried fruit that were potentially over-dried during the toasting of the granola—rather than soft, chewy pieces of fruit, they were hard and tough. I couldn’t see or taste any rhubarb in the apple and rhubarb jam, but it wasn’t overly sweet and still had a nice mellow flavour. I thought there was way too much maple syrup in the dish, but the orange marscarpone was a nice addition to help cut through that.

hotcakes

Fruit Toast

On top of everything, we also ordered the Three Mills fruit toast with cottage cheese, banana and honey. Unfortunately, the banana was a bit overpowering so I couldn’t taste the cottage cheese or the fruit toast itself. I do love banana, so it was still enjoyable to eat but for the sake of the toast I would have left the banana out or put it on the side. I think they now serve their fruit toast with strawberries, ricotta, honey and almond instead, which I think is a good move—it sounds amazing!

raisin-toast

I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad experience at The Cupping Room. They not only produce tasty food, but are consistent, innovative and seasonally change their menu. If you haven’t tried them out (although I doubt you haven’t), give them ago!

Details for the Cupping Room:

Opening hours:

Weekdays

7:00am – 4:00pm

Weekends and public holidays

8:00am – 3:00pm

Address:

1/1-13 University Ave, Canberra

Lunch at Soi Noodle Bar

A few weeks ago I was invited to a foodie lunch at Soi Noodle Bar in the city by a fellow foodie friend. Luckily for us we had full reign of the menu, so what you’re about to see is not a normal amount of food considering there was only 5 of us. We ordered about 15 dishes, and managed to almost clean up all the plates – a pretty good effort I think! Soi all
We started with a round of slushies! Cos you know, who doesn’t love a slushy? They offer three different types; lychee with lime and mint, coconut and mango, and watermelon with lime and mint. I got the watermelon one and it was really refreshing.

Soi Drinks

Edamame

Who goes to a Japanese restaurant and doesn’t order edamame? I feel like a Japanese feast isn’t complete without these little green gems.

Soi edamame

Spicy tofu

This was my absolute favourite dish of the day. Mainly because we ordered it on a whim and didn’t really expect much of it. Oh boy, am I glad we ordered it. Crispy mouthfuls of flavoursome tofu, topped with a salty miso, chilli and eggplant chutney. I’m salivating just thinking about it… As a starter it comes with 6 bite-sized pieces, so I’d definitely recommend ordering this dish to work up your appetite for the main.

Soi tofu 2

Soft-shell crab buns

Such a bargain considering how ‘hip’ and overpriced buns can be these days. You get 3 buns for $15, and they’re decently sized too. The soft-shell crab itself was crispy and salty which went well with the wasabi mayo. I would have liked more wasabi in the mayo though, but that’s just a small detail.

Soi sscrab

Spanner crab buns

These weren’t as good as the soft-shell crab buns, but they were still yummy. The buns consisted of sweet spanner crab flesh mixed with mayonnaise, pickled red onion and salmon roe. The pickles helped cut through the rich, creamy crab filling and the salmon roe added pops of saltiness.

Soi crab

Seafood Pancake

Basically a miniature okonomiyaki, hot plate and all! It came topped with okonomiyaki sauce, mayo and dancing bonito flakes. Although I couldn’t quite figure out what kind of seafood it came with, it was still really tasty, and totally brought me back to Japan.

Soi pancake

Takoyaki

I’ve been on the hunt for good takoyaki in Canberra ever since I came back from Japan, and I think I’ve found it. They were gooey on the inside and crispy outside. One serve will get you 7 takoyaki.

Soi takoyaki

Seafood gyoza

I don’t think I’ve ever met a dumpling I didn’t like, especially when they’ve been panfried to create a deliciously crunchy bottom. These ones were moist and full of flavour. The dish comes with 5 plump dumplings served on a little hotplate.

Soi gyoza

Chicken green Thai curry

Unfortunately I didn’t get a good snap of the green curry, but it was by far my favourite main, and second favourite dish overall. Again, it might be because I didn’t have high expectations of any dish that didn’t comprise noodles (considering it is a noodle bar). It was creamy, the veges were crisp, the chicken was moist and there was even a bit of spice to it. I find most places numb the chilli levels to cater to the majority, but not here at Soi. It wasn’t overly spicy, there was just a nice hum of chilli.

Pad Thai

The Pad Thai was probably the most generous in terms of portion size, so this is the dish  to order if you are absolutely ravenous (or just order 3 portions of the spicy tofu). The dish itself was pretty good but was a bit dry. I would have liked more sauce or some lemon to squeeze on top. On the visual side though, it comes in an amazing, vibrant blue bowl.Soi Pad Thai

Laksa

Sadly, I didn’t like the laksa at all. The soup was oddly sweet and on the thin side. I was also surprised to find thin rice paper noodles instead of vermicelli, and no Hokkein noodles! A laksa without Hokkein noodles is blasphemy if you ask me. Having said that, I am partial to the laksa from the Dickson Noodle House, so I might be a tad biased. Sorry, all the individual photos I took of the laksa were dreadful, but it is pictured on the feature image above (top left corner).

Shoyu ramen with chicken

Not going to lie, this wasn’t the best ramen I’ve had. I find that soy sauce based ramen can be a bit flavourless, and generally go for miso or pork based broths. The chicken was moist though, and I liked the soft boiled egg.

Soi ramen

Soi chicken breast katsu

The dish comes with crispy strips of panko-crumbed chicken breast, served on a bed of steamed black rice. I thought it was a little overpriced ($24) considering it was just chicken and rice, but I have to say it was a very generous portion. The chicken was cooked well, and I thought the black rice was a cool and different addition. Soi katsu

It turns out that Soi Noodle Bar do some really great non-noodle dishes! So next time you go there, try something different. My top recommendations are the Spicy Tofu, Soft-shell Crab Buns, Seafood Pancake, Takoyaki and Green Thai Curry.

Details for Soi Noodle Bar:

Opening hours:

Everyday

11:00am – 10:00pm

Address:

Canberra Centre Shopping Centre, Shop EG08, Bunda Street, Canberra