The space is friendly and basic, as if Vegetarian Noodle Bowl is reminiscent of its local corner shop roots. The fridges are still laden with your stock-standard milk bar products like soft drinks, cartons of milk and eggs yet you can find tofu in many forms. The freezers, once filled with Sunny Boys and Paddle Pops, are now stacked with mock meats, dim sims and dumplings to take home. One little freezer still remains, spruiking a few icecreams. Shelves nearby are abundant with Asian vegetarian groceries from sauces to noodles, rice and dried mushrooms. I manage to find a bottle of vegetarian “fish” sauce; a condiment I’ve been sourcing for quite a while!
We seat ourselves at a table, dressed with a plastic tablecloth, and our waitress treats us to a big pot of piping hot green tea served in a Chinese teapot. The tea is free, which is lovely.
Behind the counter, the cook is busy gathering ingredients along the refrigerated counter – noodles, vegetables and the occasional mock prawn or pork slice. Before long, our meals are frying away.
There are many quick meals on offer at Vegetarian Noodle Bowl from rice dishes like nasi goreng to noodle soups including laksas. Tonight, we’re treating ourselves to a couple of wok tossed noodle dishes. Within minutes from ordering, our meals arrive steaming and full of flavour. The servings are massive and cheap too – meals are under $10 each and are fit for starving bellies after a long day at work. The mock pork and prawns are scarily accurate in taste too, bringing this oriental vegetarian experience full circle.
Update as of April, 2014…
There’s been movement since this post was written! Vegetarian Noodle Bowl have headed to greener pastures. They’re now called Vegie Bowl Restaurant, situated at 382 Springvale Road Forest Hill Victoria 3131. Phone: 03 8822 3873.