Review: Soi Noodle Bar

Michelle Brotohusodo

Asian fusion.

I have to admit, when I see these words on a menu or signage I’m always a bit skeptical about what the food in such a place will be like. So I was a little wary when I went to Soi Noodle Bar for the first time, just before Christmas.

I hadn’t seen Soi since the ‘coming soon’ boarding had come down, and I was struck by its setting, which was lovely. Beautiful wooden slats surrounded the outside, and the inside was much nicer and more modern than the typical Asian takeaway joint.

Soi interior

Upon arrival, I was greeted by the floor manager, Wiwid, and the chef, Moon, who had invited me along. Moon explained that the menu offered a mixture of Japanese and Thai dishes, as well as ‘design your own dish’ options. He said they’d wanted the menu to have a lot of choice to allow customers to experience both Japanese and Thai flavours.

I’d brought my brother with me, and we both agreed to Wiwid and Moon’s suggestion that they would just give us a range of dishes to try, to give us an idea of what Soi had to offer.

The good thing about letting chefs decide what they want to give you is that often you end up trying something you probably wouldn’t have ordered yourself. In this case, the first dish we were given: spicy tofu topped with chilli eggplant miso. Definitely not something I would have thought to order, I was pleasantly surprised at how tasty this was. The outside of the tofu was light and crispy, contrasting nicely with the soft inside, and the topping was really flavoursome, and not too spicy (those of you expecting more of a chilli hit might be disappointed).

Soi tofu

Next we were presented with a sample of the tempura prawns and soft shell crab buns. The prawns were cooked perfectly, and the tempura coating was light and not greasy. The soft shell crab was similarly crispy and tasty, and went well with the buns.

Soi prawn crab

A serve of the karaage chicken was next. The meat was surprisingly juicy and delicious, the outside crunchy, but not stodgy or oily.

Soi karaage

Then came some gyoza, and again these were cooked perfectly—they were light, not overdone, and the filling was delicious.

Soi gyoza

Next it was time for the mains. First was a serve of Saikyo miso, black cod fish, with salad and black rice. Wiwid told me this was one of their most popular dishes. Neither my brother or I had even heard of it before, let alone tried it, so we weren’t sure what to expect. The fish was cooked just right, and the sauce was strong and full of flavour, but not overpowering. The black rice was a nice change from the usual white, and went well with the fish and sauce.

Soi cod fish

We were also given a serve of chicken pad thai, which was nice enough, but given the other more interesting and less common options on the menu I probably wouldn’t get it again.

Soi pad thai

I was interested to see that Soi also had two desserts on offer, and very pleased that we were given these to try, as I love sweets. The first was a chocolate mousse with raspberry and mint. It’s hard to go wrong with chocolate mousse, and this was delicious and quite rich. The tartness of the raspberry balanced out the sweetness of the chocolate, and the chocolate biscuit on top added some texture.

Soi choc mousse

The other dessert, however, was the standout. Coconut yoghurt, with mango and pistachios. I don’t even really like coconut but this was wonderful. My brother loved it too. It was fresh, fruity, and tasted like summer. It’s the perfect dessert for this season, and it’s worth going to Soi for this alone.

Soi coconut yoghurt

I really wanted to try a slushie so I got one to take away, the lychee sakura, which comprised lychee, lime, and jasmine. Wiwid told me that they make the slushies fresh every day, using real fruit. Their slushies would be perfect for a hot summer’s day, or just any day, really.

Soi slushie

I was pleased that my scepticism about Soi’s Asian fusion concept had been unfounded, and I liked it enough to go back again for lunch with a friend on another day. They had some lunch specials, the Saikyo miso black cod fish and the Soi chicken breast katsu. Since I’d already tried the cod fish, I went for the katsu this time, and another lychee sakura slushie. My friend ordered a chicken pad see ew.

Soi pad see ew

We were both very surprised at how quickly the food came out. My friend liked her pad see ew, and found the serving big enough to split into two and take half home. I was very happy with my chicken katsu. The meat was tender and the katsu coating was tasty and not too heavy. I liked having the choice of the traditional katsu sauce and the chilli mayonnaise.

Soi katsu

I will definitely be going back to Soi for their mini and main dishes, and the coconut yoghurt dessert and slushies. The other less unusual dishes I’m not so sure about, but I’ll get to them once I’ve made my way through (and repeated) the minis and mains, and salads.

I get a bit confused with having to choose between lots of options so will have to think more about the design-a-dish menu, but if you prefer to have a bit more of a say over what you want in your dish, then that menu’s definitely for you.

The author and her brother dined courtesy of Soi Noodle Bar on their first visit, but all opinions are their own.

the essentials

The place: Soi Noodle Bar
Where: Shop EG08, Canberra Centre, Bunda Street, Civic
When: 11am-10pm, Monday-Sunday
Food: Asian fusion, Japanese and Thai dishes, including gluten free options
Drink: Japanese rice tea, slushies, coconut juice, other soft drinks, or BYO
Contact: Call 02 6247 0888 or visit their Facebook page

Feature image courtesy of Soi Noodle Bar

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Michelle Brotohusodo

Michelle moved to Canberra vowing to stay for two years, tops. 10 years later, she’s a bona fide Canberra convert. When she’s not working in her day job as a public servant, she’s enjoying Canberra’s culinary delights or finding fun things to do/see in and around town. More about the Author

  • MissAnon_82

    Cannot recommend this place – last time I went there I found a bug in my food!!!