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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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:
11:00am – 10:00pm
Canberra Centre Shopping Centre, Shop EG08, Bunda Street, Canberra