Sesame Noodle Bar — specialising in cold Japanese-inspired dishes — is fast becoming a popular lunch spot. Kate Burbidge and Chatti Phal check it out.
The steady flow of customers into Sesame’s simple yet welcoming interior each lunch time is testament to its growing following. The restaurant’s white vertical and dark horizontal lines exude a cool calmness that offers respite from the hectic outside world. The menu is equally simple, offering a small range of cold noodles, side dishes and sweets.
Sesame House Noodles ($3.75 a bowl, or $4.75 with two pork gyoza) are accompanied by crisp vegetables, which add colour and freshness to the dish, and a rich satay-like sauce that ties the whole bowl together. The noodles are, as promised, ice cold and chewy. Far from rubbery, they have a texture and bite similar to al dente pasta. The mixture of textures is completed by crunchy, almost caramelised, pork mince. Its sweetness gives a satisfying depth of flavour to the whole dish.
The Fatty Noodle ($4.50) is a twist on the Sesame House Noodles. It substitutes mince with sliced, roast pork belly and adds a dose of hoi sin sauce that lends a further sweet edge to the meal.
Small, lightly pan-fried gyoza dumplings ($2/$3.50 as a side dish) make an appetising bite-sized accompaniment, and come with a slightly sweet dipping sauce that cuts though the savoury minced pork and spring onion filling.
Equally capable of whetting the taste buds are the Mighty Thor Buns ($2.25), named after a Japanese cartoon hero whose image is displayed around the restaurant. Succulent pork belly, sharp homemade pickles and sweet hoi sin sauce are all stuffed into small, soft steamed buns. With just a touch of heat arising from the additional siracha paste, made from sun-ripened chillis, they burst with flavour.
To finish there’s a choice of mochi, which are lightly fried rice-cake balls rolled in sesame seeds and stuffed with either pumpkin ($2) or dark chocolate ($3.25). They are served slathered in caramel sauce or, in the case of the chocolate sesame bombs, a scoop of ice-cream and are a satisfyingly sweet but not sugary finish to the meal.
Further refreshment is available in the usual guise of sodas ($1), beers ($1 to $3) or wine ($3 a glass). The stand-out drink is a passion-mint shake, a surprisingly pleasant combination that is very much in keeping with the light, healthy tone of the menu. All the ingredients are sourced fresh from the market each morning, reinforcing the restaurant’s ethos of trying “to keep things simple but do them well.” Well executed simplicity is exactly what you find at Sesame.