Just Open: Soi 38, Melbourne CBD

Boat noodles at Soi 38, Melbourne.
Boat noodles at Soi 38, Melbourne. Photo: Nat Stockley

Lusty, authentic Thai soup noodles in a CBD laneway that serves as access to a parking building. Could there be anything more perfectly Melbourne?

Soi 38 – named after a popular Bangkok street-eats precinct – is the baby of Thai food fanatic Andy Buchan and Vherachid "Top" Kijthavee​, formerly of another CBD joint, Tidlom Thai.

Their Soi 38 handcarts have been sporadic visitors to festivals around Melbourne for several years, and now that the duo have their own permanent location up and running, the carts have become part of the cheerfully gaudy decor, along with colourful enamelled furniture and equally bright flags.

Soi 38 is named after a popular Bangkok street-eats precinct.
Soi 38 is named after a popular Bangkok street-eats precinct. Photo: Nat Stockley

Soi 38 serves just two varieties of soup noodles – tom yum and boat noodles, so called because they used to be sold from small boats along the canals and rivers of central Thailand.

The boat noodle bowls contain rice noodles, water spinach, bean shoots, sliced beef, braised beef and a beef ball awash in a pork broth scented with cinnamon, star anise, lemongrass and galangal. The more familiar spicy-sour tom yum noodles contain slices of roasted red pork, prawn and pork wontons and chopped peanuts, among other things.

Both cost $10 a bowl and can be customised in a variety of ways using the at-table condiments, which cover salty (fish sauce), sweet (white sugar), spicy (chilli flakes) and sour-and-spicy (green chillies in vinegar).

Open Mon-Sat 11am-3pm.

38 McIlwraith Place, Melbourne, soi38.com