130 William Street (Treasury Casino), Brisbane CBD
I was really excited when I heard about Luke Nguyen's new restaurant in the Treasury Casino. Asian hawker-style food? Win! A restaurant that opens till 3am on weekends? Even better! It just opened last week and my friend Howl happened to be visiting from Cairns so we arranged to have a late dinner there on Friday night.
The restaurant is designed to have a high turnover and thus, no bookings necessary but we figured that on their opening week they were bound to be busy. To avoid a long wait, we got there just after 9pm. Despite being relatively late for dinner, there was still a significant queue outside Fat Noodle. We ended up leaving our name and getting a buzzer.
After finishing a round of drinks at the casino bar, the buzzer went off and we returned to the restaurant. Fat Noodle occupies the space that Cafe 21 used to be in. As expected, it was furnished tastefully in a contempory Asian style.
We were taken to a table towards the back of the restaurant. I noticed that the place was full and bustling and that as well as the office workers and young people out for a night in town, there were families with kids too.
The menu is comprised of some small dishes that act as starters and some familiar pan-Asian mains.
We ordered a couple of starters for the group to share. Howl requested the pork neck skewers and we chose some pork and prawn rice paper rolls too. Each of us then ordered a main each.
Fat pho noodles - Chef Luke's signature beef broth, thinly sliced angus sirloin and brisket, bean sprouts, fresh Thai basil, fresh chili and rice noodles
Howl's main came first. He had chosen the Fat pho noodles, which is Fat Noodle's signature dish. The serving size was much smaller than what I'm used to seeing in Vietnamese restaurants. It came with a plate of sprouts but no lemon or even hoisin sauce. It was a long time before another dish arrived so Howl started eating first. I asked how it was and he commented that it was "a very average pho". I tried a bit and have to agree. This may impress someone who's never tried pho before but it has nothing on authentic pho at a cheap Vietnamese eatery both in terms of flavor or abundance of ingredients.
Grilled pork neck skewers - with vermicelli noodles and fresh herbs
The pork skewers arrived next. They were really small and quite tough. Marc, who doesn't often say anything negative about food remarked that they were very chewy. I did love the flavor but it was a shame about the meat.
King prawn and pork rice paper rolls - with hoisin dipping sauce
The rice paper rolls were tidy and fresh. They were small and didn't contain a lot of prawn or pork but I suppose that's fairly standard. They were considerably dearer than what I'm used to at $13 for a plate of 4 bite-sized portions.
Mee goreng - with prawn, chicken, octopus, sambal chili sauce and Singapore noodles
By the time we were done with the starters (and Howl had long since devoured his pho), Marc's main, the mee goreng, arrived. The serving size was reasonable, and there was a good amount of non-noodle ingredients. I tried some and enjoyed the flavor. In particular, I liked the smokey wok taste that can't be easily recreated at home.
Chicken pad thai - with chicken breast, bean sprout, egg and nuts
After another huge wait, my pad thai finally arrived. It was similar in serving size to Marc's mee goreng and also had the wok aroma. I enjoyed the flavor and consistency of noodles but would have liked more chicken in it. It was also a tad oily.
I wasn't blown away by Fat Noodle. In terms of flavor or value, I would choose an authentic Asian eatery any day. I suppose that what it has over those restaurants in Sunnybank is convenient location and ambience. The service was sketchy. On one hand, the staff were friendly. On the other, the meals arrived sporadically. That might just be a teething issue in its first week though. I wouldn't write off ever going back but I do hope I see some improvements!