This place takes ‘Drunken Chicken Soup’ to a whole new level. It’s called Wonder Bowl—a new pan-Asian noodle soup bar in the CBD.
So far so normal, right? Except most bowls of noodle soup don’t have alcoholic condiments. Chilli, yep. Thai basil, sure. But Chinese rice wine? That’s a new one. Not only does Wonder Bowl cook with rice wine, they match bottles to broth: the idea is to add a dash (or a full-blown glug) to your soup before you slurp it.
But let’s start with the base. Wonder Bowl uses either thick Mi Xian vermicelli rice noodles (silky and slippery, like spaghetti crossed with live eels), chewy Yee Mee egg noodles, or flour-based flat noodles—a distant cousin of fettuccini.
You pick your noodles, then choose between a variety of broths: everything from mellow vegetarian to eye-watering ‘Spicy Superior’. Depending on your broth choice, the Wonder Bowl team will recommend a particular rice wine. The flavour profiles are designed to match, like a cellar door tasting session. The idea is to slosh it into the soup, give it a stir, and let the flavours meld.
Sounds weird, but it does work. The boozy hit of rice wine complements the salty fish broth—kind of like a shot of Frangelico in your hot chocolate.
The bowls are super customisable too (in fact Wonder Bowl promise they’re like fingerprints, no two the same). You can pick fish paste, pork belly slices, BBQ prawns, combination meatballs, fish roe, tender pipis. Finish off with extras like black fungus, soy beansprouts or enokitake mushrooms.
You’ll find Wonder Bowl upstairs, just down Little Lonsdale, near State Library. The fit-out is a step up from your average Springvale noodle parlour—mod blonde timber bench tables (carved with wavy, noodle-esque patterns), big treescape windows and white vaulted ceilings. Feels more like a soup chapel than a 9pm slurp factory. Definitely a solid addition to the CBD food scene.
Image credit: Wonder Bowl