I remember when Soju Girl opened a few years ago. It was considered a hip new place to go. I went when it was still in its early days with a small group of people. Back then I enjoyed quite a few cocktails as well as the share style meals.
I was invited to go recently, and whilst there certainly were no cocktails involved, it was a lovely dining experience with a group of people from my work.
The kind of eating at Soju Girl is described as “refined Asian sharing plates”. It’s a similar experience to going to a Chinese restaurant and each person on the table ordering a different dish to be shared with the group, alongside steamed or fried rice.
There are more choices than would usually be expected at this hipster-style restaurant. Surprisingly there are plenty of gluten free options – about 75% of the menu. I love that on the menu it says “the menu has been designed with gluten intolerance in mind” – hooray! I actually have a choice this time and not a forced choice!
The menu also caters for vegetarians and even vegan.
My table consisted of a variety of dietary requirements: gluten intolerant (me), vegetarian, vegan, and two people with shellfish allergies. With that many dietary requirements, eating out can be difficult, often with people feeling left out or feeling like they are that “annoying person”.
It’s good that there is finally a place that caters for all dietary requirements! And I love that it’s a pass-the-dish-around kind of setting. It gets people talking, breaks the ice between people that don’t know each other very well, and truly allows everyone to fill their bellies with delicious food.
The friendly staff always make sure that everyone knows how it works at Soju Girl before they let everyone properly look at the menu.
Essentially there are the large plates and the small plates. You choose a few plates to share around the table, and you can add some sides on as well. The dishes will usually be staggered throughout your time there, so you are not overloaded with too many choices at once, and so the dishes compliment one another.
Zucchini Flowers: I’ve got two words for this dish: absolutely delicious. The fillng tasted like minced turkey or pork mince, although it was completely vegetarian (and gluten free!). It came with a ginger, soy sauce and capsicum dipping sauce. They didn’t even need the sauce though because they were so tasty! My dish of the night!
Pan Tossed Prawns with Crispy Noodle Salad: whilst this dish technically not gluten free I ate part of it anyway. The prawns had been mixed with lychees which gave it a nice sweet taste. The prawns themselves had a delicious slightly spicy taste to them. The only problem was that my prawn had not been entirely removed from its shell, causing me to have an uncomfortable chunchy bite into part of my prawn. But the meat of the prawn melted in your mouth. The sauce had a tomato-style-tang to it. It came with a crispy noodle salad, which I obviously didn’t have as it is not gluten free.
Crispy Pork Belly: Not the best pork belly I’ve ever had. It was not a melting in your mouth experience like I usually have with pork belly. The crackling was thin but not too salty. It had a pleasant taste but it isn’t something I would choose again.
Lamb Shoulder in Massaman Curry: This dish was a lot bigger than I expected! There was a very generous lamb shoulder in the middle of the curry dish. It had a medium spice to it, delicious aroma, and was well marinated. We ordered some steamed rice to have with this dish.
Sizzling Asian Mushrooms: The sizzling mushrooms came out like the sizzling lamb dish at Chinese restaurants – in the same kind of plate, with the dish still sizzling away. It was mixed with fried egg, tofu and Asian vegetables. It was another winner dish for me. It was great that this dish could be eaten by almost everyone at the table – it was gluten free and vegetarian, but not vegan. Although the it was not entirely vegan, the vegan diner at our table still ate some of the vegetables out of this dish and it seemed that she enjoyed the taste of this dish as well.
I was totally shocked that after all that food it was only $26 per person! And that was even after everyone put in money for the person the dinner was in honour for.
I would definitely recommend going to Soju Girl and I am already thinking about planning another dinner there soon. It would be great for groups of friends or work colleagues to catch up over dinner and share delicious food.
I would say Soju Girl is one of my top restaurants in Canberra.
For the full menu please click here.