Empire BBQ cafe

When our usual Chinese roast meat eatery in Dickson was closed, my friend and I found ourselves venturing to other establishments that offer a similar menu. We went upstairs to what used to be the Family Food Court, which was now the spacious restaurant of Empire BBQ cafe.When we were seated, we were given menus and hot tea. While my friend and I were deliberating what to order, she couldn’t find the dishes I was talking about and it turns out we were given different menus. Make sure when you go to look at both of them before deciding what to order.Combination chow mein ($14.80). A rather large serving of chow mein, which had my favourite crispy egg noodle underneath absorbing all that delicious sauce.Roast pork with noodles ($12.80). My friend didn’t know exactly what to expect when she ordered this dish, but she didn’t think that the noodles would be served separately to the roast pork. The noodles might seem a bit bland to some but they are a big staple in the Hong Kong cuisine served with a little bit of oyster sauce and sesame oil topped off with some greens. The pork was nice as it wasn’t really fatty and it had the quintessential crunchy crackling. I do prefer my roast meats with rice, so I will order that next time.The roast pork had a good fat to meat ratio, all topped off with that perfect crackling.The food is reasonably priced and the dishes came out rather quickly.

I liked how the menu has a bit of everything from the western Chinese food like chicken and cashew nuts and honey prawns to Chinese offal (beef tripe, pig stomach etc) and also foods you don’t usually see on a menu like congee. I would like go back to try their congee and eat more of their roast meats range.

 

Venue: Empire BBQ cafe

Address: 28 Woolley St, Dickson ACT 2602

Phone(02) 6247 2477

Empire BBQ cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

New Star Charcoal Chicken

The body wants what the body wants, there is no logic to it. So when I was craving chicken, I found myself in Dickson shops looking for something chicken-y. I came across New Star Charcoal Chicken which opened up about a month ago.1/2 chicken, chips, garlic, soft drink can ($12.90). The chips were freshly fried, topped with chicken salt (by request) and were very addictive. The garlic was so good I wanted to put it on everything. Unfortunately, the chicken wasn’t freshly cooked (it had been sitting under heat lamps), the breast was dry and the limbs were a bit overcooked. It is a shame because the place smelt really good. Maybe I’ll have to go back during a peak period and get a fresh chicken.Have you been to this place?

Venue: New Star Charcoal Chicken

Address: Shop 1/4-20 Dickson place, Dickson, ACT

Plaka re-run

Having dinner at Plaka in Dickson was purely impromptu. A friend lured me out as she needed to be on the other side of town and was saying we could have dinner first. I had just been in Dickson the night before eating at Pho Phu Quoc, so I was wondering what we should eat that night. ‘I haven’t been to Plaka since it opened’ (see my first post here) I thought to myself and it did not take that much convincing for my friend to come eat at the only Greek restaurant (for now) in Canberra.

My friend being as organised as she is, had already looked up the menu and decided what she had wanted but when we got there and she took a closer look at the menu, she went back to being undecided. There were so many things that we wanted to eat but there were only two of us. We decided to divide and conquer. We would share some entrees and share two mains, which would be seafood and Greek lamb (the two things you must try when you go to a Greek restaurant).

Traditional Green Pita bread unleavened pita bread grilled with olive tapenade ($6.00). This bread is spectacular! I don’t think it mattered what spread was on top. It had the perfect texture, it was served hot and the olive tapenade gave it the right amount of saltiness. Kolokithokeftedes zucchini, feta and fresh herb fritters, lightly fried, served with tzatziki (3 per serve $14.00). I found that these really lacked salt and flavour even though there were supposed to be feta in the mixture, which is a real shame considering how amazing the bread was. They were served hot but my friend had a suspicion that they were reheated rather than made fresh.BBQ seafood plate BBQ King prawns, salt and pepper calamari, oysters mornay and kilpatrick, grilled baby octopus and prawn cutlets ($35.00). I think the only down side was to try and eat everything as fast as I could to enjoy the meal while it was hot. I started off with the oysters, the mornay wasn’t that cheesy and I felt that the kilpatrick could have done with more sauce but the grilled baby octopus and calamari was delicious while it was hot.Lamb souvlaki plate two grilled lean lamb fillets skewers marinated in Greek herbs and spices served with chips, greek salad, tzatziki and Greek pita bread ($27.00). I tried the lamb while it was hot but I felt it was a little chewy and obviously the cooler it got, the tougher the meat became. The chips were really good and the salad balanced out all the meat and carbs. Even though I was very full towards the end, I couldn’t help but eat pieces of feta smeared on that awesome pita bread. I told the waitress to take the plate away before my friend would have to roll me out of the restaurant.A few things were a bit of a hit and miss but I did really enjoy parts of this meal, I hope they were just having an off night with their lamb. I love Greek food and I want to love this place but I feel that something was missing with the food. Having said that, the service was fantastic and food came out so fast, we were very impressed.

Walter G’s – when did this happen?

Every time I drive past the dark back streets of Dickson, a red lit sign always catches my eye and I’ve been wondering what has taken the place of the old Trinity night club. This time as we were headed to Plaka for dinner, I was determined to see the source of the red neon lights. Walter G‘s boasts delicious pizza and desserts with many people coming in and out (I cut them out of the photo); I like how they have a vegan pizza. I wonder how long it has been there.

Tell me dear reader, have you been before? What did you think?

Steak nights at Ducks Nuts

Tuesday nights are steak nights at the new Ducks Nuts bar and grill in Dickson, $15 bucks will get you a butler steak with green leaf salad and your choice of gravy (chips are $5.00 extra).I asked mine to be medium rare and that’s what I got.  It’s not an overly big piece of steak but it was still delicious and succulent piece of meat.A useful condiment caddy with all the favourites.For those who want something else other than steak will find many options on their menu. Fried buttermilk chicken burger with house slaw and chipotle mayo served with shoe string fries ($19.00).My friend really enjoyed his burger.

Ducks Nuts specials calendar

Sunday Roast all day with all the trimmings ($20.00).

Monday SchnitzelHaus ($15.00).

Tuesday Steak night ($15.00).

Wednesday Burger night with craft beer ($15.00).

 

 

Venue: Ducks Nuts

Address: 30 Woolley St, Dickson ACT 2602 (where O’Neill’s Irish Pub used to be)

Phone(02) 6230 7675

Websitehttp://ducksnuts.net.au/

Opening hours: 7 days a week 11:00am – late

2602

It not usually the case that I go back to a suburb three nights in a row for dinner, especially since it is the opposite side of town for me, but Dickson provides a hub of interesting mixture of restaurants.The dining experiences were a combination of the familiar, the unknown and something new.

 

Thursday night: Jimmy’s Place 

It was Chinese New Year and we wanted to go out for crab and noodles. Naturally Jimmy’s is our first choice as it usually has the cheapest market price for mud crab and they do my favourite ‘ginger and shallots with a yi mein noodle base’ pretty well.

Friday night: Kimchi 

This was not my first preference as I don’t love Korean food but my friend chose restaurant and it was refreshing not to be in charge of food plans. We chose a lot of stuff that I like from the Korean menu and I’ve found some new favourites.

Saturday night: Bon Kura 

My friends couldn’t understand what I was doing when I ran to take photos of a shop front and told them to go inside Kimchi first and I’d meet them in there, but I couldn’t contain my excitement that I saw two new (well new to me) restaurants and Bon Kura was one of them; they just opened two weeks ago!

 

Watch this space for upcoming blog posts!

Chocolate overload

It has been weird to see so many chocolate dessert places open up all around Canberra; Max Brenner in Belconnen, Koko Black and Oliver Brown in Civic, San Churro in Woden and not to mention all the countless cafes around Canberra serving a late night hot chocolate. Despite all these locations, it was about time that a dessert/chocolate store opened up in one of the biggest eating areas of Canberra – Dickson.

There have been so many times when I have had dinner in Dickson but wanted to go somewhere else for dessert, but not much has been on offer since Rubee’s left the scene. This location of an Oliver Brown* just might be the smartest thing they have done in the area.

*it wasn’t opened when I walked past it last week but it didn’t look like we had to wait much longerIMG_9492

Plaka

When I mention ‘Plaka’, people think of great steaks and pizza, when I think of Plaka, I think of missed opportunity.

I never got to eat at the Plaka restaurant when it was at Mawson, although I’ve had many people recommend it to me after they had closed for three years. Lucky for me, they have re-opened in a new location in Dickson where The Copa Brazilian BBQ restaurant once was. 20140807-122427-44667639.jpgApparently some of the artwork have been taken from the old location and taken to the new restaurant now located in Dickson.20140807-122702-44822962.jpgMy eyes darted around the menu. I didn’t know where to start. I wanted to eat EVERYTHING. Oooh lamb cutlets, oh no wait, lamb souvlaki, oh wow they have mousaka too! In the end, there was no way around it, to taste as much as possible I was going to need to order the mezze plate.

Greek Mezze Platter traditional mezze served with greek salad, chips and grilled pita bread. Spanakopita and tiropita (homemade filo pastries); kefalograviera and feta; chicken and lamb souvlaki; lamb cutlets; vegetarian dolmathes; keftedes (greek meatballs); kolokithokeftedes (zucchini balls) with a mix of homemade greek dips (tzatziki, taramosalata and hummus) ($38.00 per person). Plaka only had several bookings that night and what they didn’t expect was for the restaurant have two table turnovers before we even got there, so they had run out of kolokithokeftedes. 😦20140807-122428-44668999.jpgA mezze platter for three people.20140807-122545-44745826.jpgSpanakopita and tiropita (homemade filo pastries). The pastries were flaky and buttery with a delicious filling, even TimmyC really enjoyed them and he doesn’t usually like ricotta and feta.20140807-122609-44769209.jpgChicken and lamb souvlaki. It amazes me how they have kept the meat perfectly moist while being cooked on a skewer. The chicken had a lovely lemon-y tang to it while the lamb had a strong lamb flavour but lacked a little salt. 20140807-122432-44672147.jpg20140807-122605-44765890.jpgLamb cutlets. They marinate their lamb in herbs but don’t season it with salt but I guess that allows you to add enough for your liking. The meat cutlets were big and tender, very tasty.20140807-122604-44764487.jpgVegetarian dolmathes. There isn’t much I don’t eat but I must admit that dolmathes is something I don’t enjoy. I find the flavours and the oil that it is saturated it unbearable but I took a chance and had one, I surprisingly ate the whole thing. The flavours aren’t as strong and the filling wasn’t completely oily.20140807-122548-44748880.jpgChips. I didn’t really see the need for chips and with everything sitting on top, most of it got soggy but I did sneak in a few in my meal to go with all the meat. 

Pita bread. I was sad to find that they get their bread from Sydney, that seems a bit too far to travel for bread, so I guess I’ll just have to come back more often and eat it here. I was told to wrap a variety of salad and meat in the bread and eat it with all the combined flavours. I wasn’t sure if we were supposed to get dips too with the way the menu was written but even without the dips and zucchini balls, we were stuffed and we couldn’t finish the platter.

Keftedes (greek meatballs). I applaud whoever made these. These were cooked through nicely while being fluffy and moist. A great mixture of breadcrumbs, mince and herbs. YUM!20140807-122607-44767656.jpgDessert~ Not only did I eat slowly making us the last people in the restaurant, everyone else before us had eaten all the delicious desserts leaving baklava as the only choice but I was completely fine with that.

Baklava. It’s a big call, but I going to say it is the best baklava I’ve ever eaten if not, at least in the top two! TimmyC promised me his piece because he doesn’t usually like baklava and yet when he tasted it he couldn’t stop eating either.20140807-122648-44808828.jpgI was dining with one of TimmyC’s friends who is the nephew of the owners and with that  privilege I was able to meet the family. By the end of the night, I was ready to become a Greek and move in! They were so super friendly and I loved their food. I was a bit annoyed at the end of the of the night though, they wouldn’t take any of our money even though we insisted.

Plaka have just opened last Saturday (2nd Aug) but with old patrons coming to find them and new ones excited to try them, they get very busy and I would advise booking early to not miss out on anything.

I’m a huge fan of seafood but I currently can’t eat any at the moment (don’t ask, it is just easier not to argue with a Chinese Mum) but when I can, I would definitely come back to try their seafood. I asked them how often they receive seafood and they said everyday (wow!), their prawns come from Coffs Harbour and the rest come from the south coast.20140807-122704-44824253.jpgAlthough they don’t have pizzas right now, there are plans in the future to expand hours to cover Saturday breakfast, maybe have a lunch sitting, eventually bring back pizzas and maybe do BBQ kababs. *licks lips*

Venue: Plaka

Address: 5/55 Woolley Street, Dickson, 2602

Phone: (02) 6249 8880

Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 6:00pm till late

Wesbite: http://www.plaka.com.au

Plaka on Urbanspoon

Grill & Sizzle Fusion

When I wrote that there was a new restaurant that had opened in Dickson recently, I couldn’t remember for the life of me what the owner(?) said the type of cuisine was, all I remembered was that they said Japanese style of food with charcoal skewers and… PASTA! That was the eureka moment I had while I browsed through Grill & Sizzle Fusion‘s menu the day after I had discovered that this place had even existed. That’s a weird combination I thought (the same type of reaction I had when I went first went to Digress). Needless to say, I wasn’t going to order pasta from a heavily Asian influenced menu.

Inside the restaurant was a spacious setting, you could tell that they had spent a lot of time and money refitting the restaurant that was once the run down Jimmy’s Place but I thought the decor didn’t really suit the restaurant. They had elaborate lighting, gold seats and an uncomfortable looking couch that bordered one side of the restaurant, it was almost like walking into a flash nightclub during the day.

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20140209-221851.jpgThe first thing I thought about the menu was ‘whoa, this place is expensive’, considering I convinced my friend to come here with me even though our first choice was a <$13.00 meal from across the road, but we were open to trying somewhere new so we sat down and browsed through the menu more thoroughly.

We each received a complimentary salad and seaweed.20140209-203811.jpgJapanese crumbed curry chicken served with + bowl of rice ($17.80). My friend’s chicken curry set also came with a bowl of rice and three pieces of small sushi. The chicken was nice and crispy; it was an Asian version of a chicken schnitzel but with panko crumbs which was what I expected, but what was very underwhelming and disappointing was the curry sauce it self. It had a heavy taste of onion and gravy-ish/curry sauce with a strong aftertaste of pepper, I would have usually complained that the sauce portion was so small but this time it might have been a good thing.20140209-203842.jpgMy friend’s curry set came with a serve of three petite sushi pieces (she was too quick with her chopsticks before I took a photo).20140209-205045.jpgDiced Wagyu with seasonal vegetable fried rice ($17.80). When they say diced, they mean it; the Wagyu pieces were not much bigger than a pea. Overall there wasn’t much taste to the fried rice (although the garnish of seaweed paper was strong), the only saving grace was that it was served nice and hot. Between my bowl of rice and pieces of sushi (more rice), I was too full to finish my fried rice but for the price I paid for it, I took the rest with me.20140209-221741.jpgPrawn tempura roll (6 pieces $14.80 but they gave us 8 pieces?).The greedy girl inside of me wanted to see if their sushi was any good, plus it was probably a good thing considering I don’t think my friend was going to get full from that chicken curry set and I got bored just eating fried rice pretty quick. The prawn tempura was still slightly warm but the coating was nice and crunchy, giving each mouthful different textures. The caviar was juicy and burst in your mouth with every bite. This dish came out last and I have to say, it was the best part of our meal hands down.20140209-221753.jpgPrawn tempura, avocado, tamagoyaki and a crab stick all neatly packaged in a sushi roll covered in juicy caviar.20140209-221811.jpg

I understand trying to fuse food from different cuisines together to make something new but I think Grill & Sizzle Fusion seem to have been confused in the process, it is really just a mish mash of different types of food thrown together on a menu with Chinese translations.

I think if they want to stay competitive in the foodie area that is Dickson, they will have to come up with some decently priced lunch specials and have a more clear view of what kind of food they want to serve or create some cleverly fused unique foods. If anyone is brave enough to order pasta in a Japanese influenced restaurant run by Chinese people, let me know how it goes.

Venue: Grill & Sizzle Fusion

Address: 13 Woolley St, Dickson ACT 2602

Phone: (02) 6262 6669

Grill & Sizzle Fusion on Urbanspoon

I spy with my little eye… Something new in Dickson

I was getting my roast duck and pork fix today when I spotted a new restaurant in Dickson, across the road where Jimmy’s Place used to be.

Grill & Sizzle Fusion left me with many questions as they had no indication of what cuisine it was from the sign nor a takeaway menu. I went in to find a spacious dining area and friendly wait staff. They explained to me that they haven’t received the printed take away menus yet and when I asked them when they had opened, today was their first day (what a coincidence!). They explained that they have Japanese influenced food including charcoaled skewers (I guess that is where the sizzle comes in?), I’m not sure what all that means but I’m keen to come here and try the food. If anyone beats me to it, I’d love to hear what you think.

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Cholo’s Peruvian Restaurant

**AIYA! I thought I hit post on this before I left for Asia, wah so late already!**

I haven’t eaten Peruvian food before and all I know about it is that they have guinea pig on the menu over there but that is not what I was particularly hoping for when I went to Cholo’s Peruvian restaurant in Dickson (there was no guinea pig on the menu phew).

I love their brightly coloured place mats and interesting ‘Inca Kola’ bottles that have been reused as water bottles.

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Chicha Morada Peruvian purple corn drink ($4.00). This wasn’t overly sweet and had an aftertaste of bubble gum but not so strong that I wouldn’t finish the glass. YUM and very interesting!

Entrees~

Empanadas ($12.50).

The filling wasn’t dry but a bit crumbly when we tried to cut it up to share. I’m a huge huge fan of the accompanying green sauce (be careful it has a bit of a kick to it)!

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Tequenos ($8.50). A smaller version of the empanadas with a different pastry. I think I prefer these if sharing with a bigger group, although it doesn’t have that wonderful green sauce (yes I liked it THAT much!).

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Ceviche diced Ocean Perch delicately spiced and cured in lime juice served with Spanish onion, celery and coriander, served cold ($19.50). There was only one of these left of the night so we quickly ordered this while we were figuring out which mains to order. I didn’t really read the description, so I was quite surprised when I discovered it was a cold dish. There was lots of lime juice and coriander flavours. People either loved it or had enough after one piece. I found it very interesting and slightly addictive as I kept going back for more.

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Mains~

Pollo a la Brasa 1/2 succulent, roasted Peruvian style char-coaled chicken  served with papas, fresh green salad and chili sauce ($25.00). This was a really moist char-coaled chicken with a really great seasoning on the skin. I thought the side of chips was a bit weird unless they eat a lot of chips in Peru?

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Carapulcra slow cooked spicy Papa seca (sundried potato) and pork pieces served with rice and sarsa criolla ($26.50). This had nice pork stewed flavours but I preferred the roast chicken.

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Crunchy cassava chips.

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Lomo Saltado beef stir fry with Spanish onion, tomato and coriander tossed through crispy potato fries served with rice ($28.50). I didn’t think there was anything special about this dish and the beef wasn’t particularly tender either.

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Locro de Zapallo potato and pumpkin casserole served with rice ($24.00). I liked this dish even though it seemed very mushy in texture. I would order this over the beef stir fry next time.

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Desserts~
Everyone was too full for dessert but I convinced a friend to get a little something with me and somehow ended up ordering two desserts. 
Pastry horn filled with dulce de leche ($4.00). The pastry was very stale so I just focused my fork in the centre, as delicious as it was, it was very intensely sweet (like eating ‘caramel from a can’ kind of intense).

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Torta Tres Leches sponge cake, smothered in 3 different milky creams. A taste you won’t resist ($12.50). I really liked this cake. The sponge was incredibly ‘light’ feeling and despite being soaked in syrups, I didn’t feel like the dessert was sickly sweet. It might seem a little pricey for a dessert but if money isn’t an issue, this is worth trying.

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Cholo’s has a friendly atmosphere and this Peruvian menu has plenty of new and interesting things to try. Get the roast chicken, it isn’t too ‘out there’ if you’re not adventurous and it is really well made. The entrees that we had were really nice and I would probably order the pork and the potato pumpkin casserole again. There was a dulce de leche that I was dying to try but they had sold out and I was so disappointed, please take a photo if you happen to order this!

Venue: Cholo’s Restaurant

Address: Shop 68, 12 Challis Street, Dickson, ACT 2602

Phone: (02) 6248 86483

Cholo's Peruvian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Mekong River re-run

I wanted to come back here and try more of Mekong River‘s noodles just to make sure the first time wasn’t a fluke and to test whether their noodle soups were as good as the stir fried noodles.

Pho ($10.00 lunch special). I am a big fan of pho noodles but this one was one of the most disappointing ones I have tried. The broth was just brown coloured water, there weren’t enough herbs and the meat was way too thick to be served with pho noodles.

Lard Nah  with chicken ($10.00 lunch special). With lots of delicious gravy, you can’t go wrong.

Laksa with roast pork ($10.00 lunch special). Seriously, why are people eating next door when the stir fried noodles and the laksas are so much better here. All the tofu was a sponge to all the delicious flavoursome soup and it had a bit of a chili kick to it.

Pad Kee Mao ($10.00 lunch special). I couldn’t not order this again, served hot and tasty with just hints of chilli. One of my favourite noodles from this restaurant.

So it wasn’t a fluke, the stir fried noodles were just as amazing as before but now we can add laksas to the ‘to eat’ list and stay away from their pho.

Mekong River – Mmmm noodles, get in my belly

I had eaten at Mekong River before but it wasn’t particularly memorable and I just never got around to blogging about it (story of my life at the moment). Unknowingly, it is now under new management and chef but everything looks exactly the same.

My friend and sat down for a quick lunch, we had craving for noodles!
Luckily for us, all their lunch specials were mostly noodles and even though there was just the two of us, we ordered three dishes as we were keen to try this place out (yet again).

(photo from previous visit, this time we were given a lunch specials menu)

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Pad Kee Mao Flat rice noodle with chili  basil and choy sum with Chinese BBQ pork ($10.00 lunch special)We were very surprised to see our first dish to come out just minutes later after we ordered (albeit we were the only ones there, but that’s still fast!). I took one bite and I had a stupid grin on my face. That was good. Even though there was no meat in my bite, there was so much flavour in the noodles, herbs and vegetables and it was all served piping hot from the wok (I have a thing about eating hot hot noodles). Do I dare say it is as good if not better than Thip’s Thai in Belconnen?

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Don’t be fooled by all the chili floating around in the dish, I couldn’t even taste it but you can request hot if that is what you’re after.

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Crispy noodles with chicken ($10.00 lunch special)Dishes two and three came out in quick succession but I had to eat the crispy noodles before they got all soft from the pool of delicious thick gravy. With a slight hint of ginger, I was in heaven, although it was a bit awkward to eat the noodles as they pointing in all directions until they went into your mouth. Probably not a first date type of food.

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Lard Nah Flat rice noodle with special sauce, onion, carrots and Chinese broccoli with beef ($10.00 lunch special). If you grew up with this dish, you get cravings and this hit the spot for us. The thick pool of gravy didn’t take away from the al dente crispiness of the vegetables.

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Maybe the best noodles in Canberra(?), if not, definitely in my top 5 list. I probably can’t directly compare to the Noodle house as everyone usually goes there for laksa and noodle soup but the dishes are less oily at Mekong River and all the vegetables are fresh which makes a huge difference. I will have to come back and try the noodle soups to make direct comparisons. 

By far one of the more superior restaurants in the neighbourhood (and I’ve eaten at all of them). 

VenueMekong River Restaurant

Address19-27 Woolley St, Dickson, ACT 2602

Phone: (02) 6162 1988

Opening hours: Open 7 days

Lunch: 11am – 2:20pm

Dinner: 5pm – 9:30pm

Fri – Sat: 5pm – 10pm 

Mekong River Restaurant on Urbanspoon