Sarah Ghim, sous chef, Fat Noodle at Treasury Brisbane

I recommend going to the seafood markets and seeing what is in season, talking to the suppliers and learning tips and tricks from them ...

Right now it’s next to impossible to hop on a plane and fly overseas, so sadly that means immersing ourselves in the food scene of a different culture is out of the question for a little while. Fortunately for us foodies, our tastebuds can still go globetrotting thanks to the crew at Fat Noodle. The award-winning restaurant has just launched a brand-new menu offshoot focusing on the tastiest street eats from Vietnam, plating up delicious morsels including grilled marinated quail skewers, laab pork and salt-and-pepper calamari with sriracha sour cream. We tracked down Sarah Ghim, Fat Noodle’s sous chef, to get her recommendations for must-try dishes and to also pick her brain for tips on cooking seafood and her favourite dish to make at home.

To start, we’d love to know what inspired you to take up the culinary art. Was there a particular dish or experience that helped spark your love of food?
I grew up in Korea and was always around great food as my Dad had a passion for trying food from all around the world. He studied in America, so he used to make us a ‘big brekkie’ every weekend and then we would head out and try different restaurants and cuisines – this was his favourite pastime. My love of food kept growing and I knew I wanted to be a chef when I was a teenager, so I started training when I was in Year 11.

Can you remember the first meal you absolutely nailed? Who did you share it with?
It was garlic-studded lamb loin and potato rosti with salsa. I won a gold medal at a cooking competition when I was in Year 12. I practiced the dish more than 20 times, always sharing it with my family – which they loved.

You’ve been working at Fat Noodle since it opened in 2012 – what has been the best thing about working at the restaurant and seeing it grow?
Oh, there are so many. Being part of the pre-opening team was really exciting. Luke shared his recipes and we cooked them together, and then I worked with the team to make sure we would keep the same quality, consistency and authenticity for all our guests. Fat Noodle was also featured in Luke Nguyen’s Food Trail on SBS – so it was great to work with the film crew and Luke to showcase the restaurant and create some delicious dishes including a family favourite – a Korean sizzling chicken. We have also been nominated for many awards, so it’s nice to know we have a good reputation with people!

When it comes to creating a dish for Fat Noodle’s menu, what are some of the criteria you apply to an idea before it becomes a winner in your book?
Before any new dish appears on the menu I make sure I have lots of tastings with team members and our regulars, as this gives me real time, honest feedback. I also want each dish to be as authentic as possible, so we have great suppliers who help us source as many traditional ingredients as possible – and if they can’t find one, they always come up with a great alternative.

As we approach the warmer months, our minds are shifting more and more towards seafood. What is the best thing about cooking with seafood and is there a morsel you adore more than others?Seafood is sweet, quick and really easy to cook with! At home I love creating a Singapore-style stir fry with fresh Queensland mud crab and finished with an egg.

What piece of kitchen advice would you give to those looking to get the most out of their seafood at home?
Always use fresh and seasonal whenever possible! We are so lucky in Queensland to have access to amazing seafood, so I recommend going to the seafood markets and seeing what is in season, talking to the suppliers and learning tips and tricks from them.

If a seafood lover were to visit Fat Noodle for lunch or dinner, what dishes would you suggest they try?
The wok-tossed black mussel and coconut broth, served with a baguette is delicious – it’s like a Vietnamese version of French bouillabaisse. Or if you love sashimi, our Atlantic salmon sashimi with mandarin, lemongrass and a nuoc cham dressing is always a winner – it has been one of our most popular dishes since day one.

Fat Noodle has just launched a menu component centred around street food. Can you tell us what inspired this addition?
I have been to Vietnam many times to meet up and learn from Luke. I try and go at least once a year and I always discover new things! Each time I go Luke draws up an ‘eating bucket list’, then we jump on the motorbikes and travel around enjoying the real Vietnamese street food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We wanted to share some of our favourites on the new menu!

Finally, we’d love to know what your go-to dish is when you’re cooking for yourself, cooking for two and cooking for a big group!
It’s a dish called bun cha – charcoal grilled Vietnamese-style marinated pork patties served with vermicelli noodle, lettuce and fresh herbs. It’s actually a dish I learnt to make on one of my trips to Vietnam at a local cooking school – so the combination of chargrilled flavours, fresh vegetables and herbs and fun memories makes this my favourite.

Fat Noodle’s new street-eats selection is now available alongside its established array of mouth-watering morsels. Head to the Treasury Brisbane website to browse the menu!

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