Best noodle soups in Melbourne
Order this: Khao piak moo krob
This hidden noodle joint is every Laotian’s favourite, but it’s virtually unknown outside that community. Handmade rice and tapioca noodles are hand cut and cooked in the venue’s rich, signature pork broth enriched with generous spoonfuls of fried shallots and garlic, resulting in a starchy soup topped with crispy pork belly, pork balls, spring onion and more garlic. The chili oil packs a big punch, so add a drop at a time if you don’t want to blow your head off.
Order this: Spicy braised beef noodle
This no-fuss student haunt has a get-in-get-out policy, so if you’re up for a quick meal or take away, this is the place to go. Broths come nuanced and clear, amped up with soft chunks of radish, slices of braised beef belly and topped off with a chilli-laden spice paste. Another plus is noodles are hand-pulled to order and you can choose your thickness with each bowl.
Order this: Boat noodle soup
If we told you some of the best boat noodles in Melbourne were in a car park, would you believe us? Well, you’ve just gotta try it for yourself. Soi 38 specialises in only four dishes, and you chose your noodle and level of soupiness and adjust each bowl to your preference with the condiment caddy on each table. Our pick is the fragrant, sweetly spiced boat noodles with beef. Vermicelli or glass noodles do an excellent job of soaking up the complex broth, but really, there is no wrong combination.
Order this: Fish slices with pickled mustard greens
If Dainty Sichuan were a fashion house, Tina’s Noodle Kitchen would be one of its diffusion labels. Specialising in thick rice noodles in a double chicken stock base, these soups are served in piping hot clay pots that arrive bubbling, cooking at the table. The fish slices with pickled mustard greens gives more depth than other variation and fills you up without weighing you down. Hard-core fans may opt for super spicy versions, but they often give up before they’re full due to the three-chili rating.
Order this: Black tonkotsu ramen
In the belly of Mid-City Arcade, you’ll find Mr Ramen San tucked away on the Little Bourke St end, usually with a line outside the door. This is due to the superior 24-hour tonkotsu broth and house-made hakata-style noodles. The black tonkotsu ramen receives a dose of black garlic oil and comes topped with thick, braised rounds of charsu, shavings of leek and spring onion, menma, sheets of seaweed and an ever-consistent marinated egg with a runny yolk.
Order this: Chongqing spicy noodle with pork chitterlings
We know what you’re thinking. Don’t think that. Chitterlings (intestine) usually gets a bad rap for its funkiness, but that’s because the organ isn’t purged properly (yeah, that is what you think it is). But these have been skillfully cleaned to produce a slippery and fatty cut of meat that has been braised in sweet spices, which complement the thick, mung bean noodles in this hot and sour broth garnished with fried soybeans. Open your mind and try something new, you might just love it.
Order this: Pho Saigon
The usual gripe of being in the CBD is that there is no good pho. That’s where Pho Nom has stepped in and saved the day. Not only has chef Jerry Mai opened two stores in the city ladling out perfectly balanced broths that have been cooking for more than 24 hours, but she uses Warialda beef and Glenloth chickens as the backbone to her dishes, assuring you of the provenance of your meat. The Pho Saigon is built off a deep and clean beef broth, slippery rice noodles, slices of soft-cooked brisket, rare beef and beef balls. A station with the freshest Thai basil, bean sprouts, sliced chilis and lemon wedges are also available for you to adjust your bowl. Can’t go wrong with that.
Order this: Tori soba (add an egg)
They may be ramen by name, but these noodle-heads are no one-trick ponies. If you’re up for a change from the usual pork-heavy ramens that sometimes leave you comatose, this delicate soba dish is a superb alternative. The usual thick, ramen noodles are swapped out for thin, special, house-made wavy noodles that sit in a clear but flavoursome chicken broth seasoned with pink Himalayan salt, accompanied by tender slices of chicken breast, chunky, house-made chicken meatballs, bamboo shoots and spring onions. Add a marinated egg for a touch of richness if that is your jam. Oishi!
Order this: Traditional grandma chongqing noodles
Grandma Noodle is a global chongqing chain, but the noodles are built off quality and consistency. A range of chillis and spices are fried off and added to a rich stock that builds this deceptively complex bowl of heady noodles. Sichuan peppercorns offer that telltale numbing characteristic of chongqing food. This bowl does not come topped with any proteins, but the spicy and savoury broth hits all sides of your palate, and you won’t be left wanting more.
Order this: Do Dee Lava (level 3)
Tom yum noodles are the specialty at Do Dee Paidang, where the heat levels range from zero to seven, and we’ve found that level three strikes a happy balance. The numbers don’t just correlate to the level of heat, but to how many spoons of dried, pounded red chili flakes makes it into the bowl to meet the sweet, porky broth and tangle of springy egg noodles. Toppings include tender slices of pork, ground pork, soft pork bone, pork balls, spring onion, chopped coriander, ground peanuts and a fistful of fried wonton strips. Bowls are traditionally small, so if you’ve got quite the appetite, we suggest you go for the jumbo size.
From comforting classics to sinus-clearing spicy broth, we’ve burned our tongues through some of our favourite go-to soups in Melbourne. Refer to this list when the chill (or a nasty cold) hits and your mum’s not around to dish out the homemade stuff.