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Food Critic: Empty Bowl Gourmet Noodle Bar

Views 24 | Time to read: 3 minutes | Uploaded: 11 - 21 - 2017 | By: Rae Briones


The Santa Barbara Public Market is an energetic place to go with friends to enjoy the several eateries present. One eatery, for example, is the Empty Bowl Gourmet Noodle Bar, which features Thai cuisine.

Customers have the option of either ordering their food to go or they can sit at the bar. There is a downside to sitting at the bar, however. The bar is limited seating, so with large groups there is a longer wait to sit down. Sitting at the bar is entertaining, though, because the customers can watch the cooks and servers move about the small space with ease. The customers also get the chance to use the spice tray of sliced jalapeños and two types of chili mixes. Customers can also use chopsticks from the jars they have scattered across the bar.

Empty Bowl Gourmet Noodle Bar offers appetizers to share such as summer rolls, larb lettuce tacos, hand wrapped “jiaozi,” and roasted duck buns. There are two salads to choose from: Thai beef salad or green papaya salad “som tum.” From their noodle soup entreés is Northern Thailand curry noodle “Khoa Soi,” long tail boat noodle, and Bangkok street noodle. Their noodle dishes include pad Thai Khao San Road, pan fried pancit noodle, tom yum noodle, and hangover noodle. Monday through Thursday, they offer noodle specials of Thai fried rice, curry, fat flat rice noodles, and noodle soup.

The Pad Thai Khao San Road is a delectable dish as a starter dish of Thai cuisine. It is a traditional Thai noodle dish with thin, stir-fried rice noodles, organic egg, tamarind, fish sauce, and bean sprouts. On the side, they serve extra bean sprouts along with chopped peanuts and dried chilis. Customers can order the dish with either chicken, vegetables, or tofu. They also offer filet mignon or shrimp for an extra charge. The pad Thai isn’t over-creamy with the sauces, making it easy to eat noodles. There could be a few more chicken pieces and smaller tofu squares. Nonetheless, the dish was not lacking in flavor both with and without the chopped peanuts and dried chili.

Their Northern Thailand Curry Noodle “Khoa Soi” is a spicy entreé. The dish is served with flat egg noodles, stewed chicken in a curry-based broth with coconut milk and fish sauce. For presentation and flavor, the soup is garnished with pickled mustard greens, green onions, cilantro, housemade chili oil, and crispy egg noodles. Even without the garnishes, the curry still has a spicy kick.

Empty Bowl Gourmet Noodle Bar was awarded by the Santa Barbara Independent as the 2017 Winner of Best Noodle Bar. Chefs also take into consideration those who are vegan, vegetarian, eat gluten free, and have certain allergies to their ingredients. Their ingredients are from local farms such as Roots Organic Farms and Hers Farms along with their meats and poultry being natural and free range.


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