I emptied out my bowl. More, please.
I have an asian stomach. I need noodle and rice at all time. Believe it or not, after a full meal, (non-asian that is), I still have a room for a bowl noodle. Why do you think it’s always the small asian who wins an eating contest? I can definitely win one. No doubt.
Public Market. We all waited for so long for it’s opening. Let’s admit it – every time we pass by, we tried to peek inside to see any signs of ‘breathing’ in there……
I was especially excited for Empty Bowl Gourmet Noodle Bar. I knew Jerry Lee and Emre Balli from San Ysidro Ranch where I did my culinary internship so they had all my ‘blessing’ on this new culinary adventure of theirs. After living in ethnic-food-abundant San Francisco for years, my heart was jumping out of uh, stomach for the excitement.
Let me give you a quick run down on the three fabulous partners at Empty Bowl.
Jerry Lee is born in Taiwan, came to US when he was 7 years old. He grew up in his grandma’s restaurant, inevitably inheriting cooking talents from his restaurateur family. After working many years as a wine director at San Ysidro Ranch and Director of restaurant at El Encanto, he left his fancy job to pursue his life-long dream to open his own.
Emre Balli who came to US 5 years ago from Turkey, worked with Jerry as a Beverage Manager both at San Ysidro Ranch and El Encanto. (Note to myself – Good friends change jobs together).
Nui Pannak who is the talent behind the kitchen, has been good friends with Jerry for nearly 20 years. Hanging out, cooking together, Jerry knew how amazing cook she was. The thought of having her as a chef someday, has been always in the back of his mind. Nui, being from thailand ,has a big thai influence on the menu.
“Many people traveled to South Pacific Asia and when they come back, they miss that food they had on a street corner. I want to recreate those travel memories in the heart of Santa Barbara, bringing different, fresh and clean asian dish ranging from Taiwan to Northern Thailand.” Jerry’s mission completed when a space in Public Market opened up. What a perfect location!
Empty Bowl Gourmet Noodle Bar is located right in the center of new Public Market on Victoria. You can’t miss it. Just look for bright red and green chopsticks on a long bar table. It reminds me of street vendor in Thailand (Cue the scooters.)……just a little fancier version.
Jerry and Emre being both sommeliers, their wine/beer list is serious. They tried 300 to make top 10 choices that goes to their menu. I had a glass of Nicolas Feuillatte. It was an absolutely beautiful sparkling. Yup, don’t mess with 2 Sommeliers at the noodle bar. Now my appetite is more sparkling than ever. You see the exquisite way Emre pours his wine? You can take Emre out of a 5 stars restaurant, but you can’t take sommelier out of Emre.
I have heard about Jerry’s mom’s pot stickers through some mutual friends. Mama’s hand wrapped Jiaozi Pot stickers. His mom comes in everyday to make them. Awww thank you, Mom. Jerry, make sure you give her a glass of bubbly ok? So flavorful, all I can say is thank you mom.
Summer rolls-soft rice paper rolled with seared shrimp, cucumber, carrots, red cabbage and fresh mango is served with housemade hoisin tamarind-peanut sauce. Shrimps of course from SB fish market. You can taste and freshness. Very clean and lovely!
Roasted Duck Noodles with fresh egg noodles is Jerry’s personal favorite and it was mine too. It’s deeply asian, and deeply street food which I absolutely loved! It’s all about broth in this case.
Northern Thailand Curry Noodle is a dish from, you guessed it, Northern Thailand where a lot of Burmese and Laos influences. Deep fried crispy egg noodles and boiled flat egg noodles, stewed chicken in yellow curry, pickled mustard greens, red onions, chili oil and lime. Unique and exotic. If you want to stay in a ‘safe’ side, try their Pai Tai and Chow Mein. Equally delicious.
It’s kind of embarrassing to admit that I go to Public Market almost everyday. This girl gotta get her noodle in…after she gets her full-meal of sandwich, handmade pasta, cheese/meat cone, bread samples…and will hit a mini cupcake and ice cream on her way out. No problem. It’s just my regular day.