Soi 38

Restaurants, Thai Melbourne
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Your new favourite noodle joint is in a CBD carpark

As you veer off Bourke Street, navigate a couple of bins and find yourself in a dark carpark, you’ll most likely wonder whether going in search of Soi 38 was the best idea. But trust us when we say that this place is home to some of the most comforting bowls of Thai boat noodles in town. 

Following Thai street naming conventions (soi means side street), Soi 38 gets pretty close to feeling like a street-side diner in Bangkok’s central business district. There’s the enamel metal seats and tables, plastic bowls and chopsticks in bright shades and an actual street food cart that owners Andy Buchan and Vherachid "Top" Kijthavee used during Soi 38’s humble beginnings as a festival food vendor.

The smell of the fragrant broth permeates the carpark restaurant from the open kitchen. On entering, you’re invited to tick your order on a short menu. There are four dishes (all $10) available: beef or pork boat noodles, tom yum noodles or the braised duck noodle soup. The boat noodles are loosely comparable to Vietnamese pho but the fragrant beef-based broth is more complex and bold in flavour from a mix of soy sauce, star anise, cinnamon, lemongrass and galangal. The meaty and herbal fragrance, combined with the filling warmth of the noodles, makes for a seriously satisfying meal. 

Our tip: try the beef. Our bowl was topped with fall-apart braised beef, leaner cuts of sliced beef, beef balls, kangkong (water spinach), and bean sprouts. The soups come mildly spicy, but diners are encouraged to adjust their soups to taste with fish sauce, sugar, chilli flakes, or a sweet and sour condiment made of green chillies, garlic and galangal in vinegar. A number of noodle varieties of various widths are available: we recommend the egg or wider rice noodles, which give more surface area for the soup to cling to (meaning maximum slurp).

So far the only diners at Soi 38 are Thai expats, students and office workers in the know. But we won’t be surprised if people start queuing up for multiple bowls of warming, authentic boat noodles.

By: Delima Shanti

Posted:

Venue name: Soi 38
Contact:
Address: 38 McIlwraith Pl
3000
Cross street: Bourke St
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 11.30am-4pm
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