Imagine this. You’ve just arrived at Fat Noodle on a clear, crisp Wednesday night after navigating your way through the labyrinth of corridors, elevators and stairs from the Treasury Casino car park. You’re led to a table for two by the window with the view of King George Square and one of its temporary, giant, pink residents (got to love those Brisbane Festival bunnies). Upon sitting down, delicious, freshly brewed Jasmine Tea is poured out for you from a cast iron teapot and placed in the middle of the table…AND THEN LUKE NGUYEN APPEARS FROM THE KITCHEN TO INFORM YOU HE IS PERSONALLY SERVING YOU A SELECTION OF HIS FAVOURITE DISHES!
This was my reality a few weeks ago when I was lucky enough to be a guest of the Treasury Casino’s Fat Noodle. I honestly couldn’t believe my luck – and was too stunned to even get a photo – when I discovered that a) Luke was in town and at Fat Noodle the night were were dining and b) that he was serving US! He advised us he would serve small portions of multiple dishes on the menu so that we could try a bit of everything without getting ridiculously full. Of course we took his word for it.
To start, Luke brought out a vibrantly peachy pink plate of Atlantic Salmon Sashimi served with mandarin, perilla (a type of mint), roasted rice powder and micro herbs. The sashimi was like velvet and conjured memories of biting into a Medlow Gel (if you’ve ever had one you’ll immediately know the type of texture I’m talking about). Seriously fresh and precision sliced it was enhanced by the sweetness of the mandarin segments and bite from the herbs with a slight smokey tang of the rice powder seasoning. Immediately it catapulted into the “top tried sashimi” category and needless to say the giant platter was swiftly devoured.
Next was the Salt’n’Pepper Silken Tofu with fried chilli and garlic. Again, the texture just blew my mind. A perfectly “just-crisp” garlicky outer layer housed smooth, mellifluous tofu that just dissipated on the tongue in an explosion of flavour.
Not long after we had made short work of our starters, Luke arrived asking us if we were enjoying everything so far – FYI it was a resounding affirmative – and placed a stunning mini bamboo basket on our table and lifted the lid. Inside sat two perfectly formed Prawn Dumplings. The dumpling “dough” was unbelievable – so light and almost rice paper like it didn’t feel at all unbalanced or stodgy with a perfect casing-to-filling-ratio. Packed with succulent, perfectly cooked prawn meat, Luke advised it was best enjoyed with a touch of soy vinegar and chilli from the condiment jars on the table. And of course, he was right.
Up next were the Fat Pho Noodles – which I am not going to lie, I had had previously during my first Fat Noodle visit and although I enjoyed it, I didn’t think it was anything extraordinary. Well…Luke must have had his keen eye on this batch of “Chef Luke’s Signature Beef Broth”, because it was absolutely mind-blowing-ly, lip-smacking-ly delicious. Never before have I tasted a broth with such flavour!! Hearty and warming with all the rich, salty flavours and juices of meat but still incredibly light and refreshing. The small bowl was then filled to the brim with thinly sliced juicy and succulent pieces of Angus sirloin and brisket, bean sprouts that were still slightly crunchy, pungent flavours of fresh Thai basil, the slightest hint of chilli and a swirl of silky, flat rice noodles at the bottom. In short? A complete sensory sensation, which Luke informed us takes two days to achieve, prepared in a giant vat that stands as tall as me and the circumference of one of the large round tables in the restaurant. It even requires the assistance of a crane to lift the meat and bones into it! Luke described it as pure goodness, medicinal and nourishing for the whole body.
After slurping the last dregs of the Pho from my bowl (which I went back to several times even after I had sipped it dry in the faintest hope something might have accumulated off the sides) the Wok Tossed Angus Beef arrived. This was my second favroutite dish for the evening and was a perfect light salad option of lemongrass, vermicelli noodles, crushed peanuts and fresh vietnamese herbs. The beef was tender and so flavoursome with sweetness and zest from the citrus. I want to go back again for a full serve of it!
Finally to round out our savoury experience Luke presented us with a small bowl of the Singapore Prawns – where a deliciously spicy sambal and shrimp sauce coated two fat, juicy prawns with slightly al dente Asian greens throughout and served on a bed of jasmine rice.
After profusely thanking Luke for all the wonderful dishes he had served us and a slight pause post prawns, we were contemplating whether or we could face dessert…which of course we could. Bolstering our stomachs for more food we were lucky enough to try both dessert options on the menu. Not long thereafter the Warm Sago Pudding With Fresh Coconut as well as the Pandan Coconut Cream Brulee [sic] arrived at our table.
Dipping my spoon first into the steaming hot sago and taking a generous helping of the creamy pudding, I felt like Goldilocks vacationing in Malaysia. The small pale pearls swum in a luscious coconut base and my first mouthful was an explosion of essence and aroma. The flavour was sweet, rich and had an element of toasted coconut with a completely surprising garish of fried onions. Interestingly, it totally worked and gave it crunch and a savoury dimension against the sweetness.
However, moving onto the Pandan Coconut Cream Brulee and that’s where my taste buds were won over. With great satisfaction I “knacked” the top and took a large scoop of the vibrantly green custard. It was unlike any crème brulee I had ever tasted – not overly sweet or eggy it was more like a Pannacotta in texture and consistency with a wonderful fresh and light flavour from the Pandan (juice from Pandanus amaryllifolius leaves, hence the green colour of the dish resultant from the chlorophyll) and coconut. It tasted akin to sweet woodruff, which is a “pine-y” tasting herb but a lot more delicate and subtle. It was a true taste sensation and a brilliant Asian twist on a classic French dessert.
To summarise? Fat Noodle is forever surprising with flavour combinations and service style (and if you’re lucky, a chance Luke appearance!). Perfectly located for a post work meal in the CBD and casual enough to decide on going at the last minute it is the ultimate catch-up-with-friends destination filled with vibe and atmosphere. It’s also a fabulous people-watching venue on a busy night.
Treasury Casino and Luke Nguyen thank you so much again for having us! It was certainly a Wednesday night to remember and my mouth is already watering at the thought of more Pho and Wok Tossed Angus Beef upon my next visit…also the Laska. And possibly the Spicy Pork…
What’s your go-to Fat Noodle dish?