Santa Barbara denizens who flock to Santa Barbara Public Market for Empty Bowl’s savory noodles can now get their fix in Montecito. Empty Bowl is one of the newest restaurants to join the Coast Village Plaza (1187 Coast Village Rd.).
Locals know Santa Barbara Public Market (38 W. Victoria St.) and the amazing reputation that Empty Bowl Gourmet Noodle Bar has gained in this venue. Empty Bowl is an Asian fusion restaurant founded by Jerry Lee, an eight-year veteran of San Ysidro Ranch’s Stonehouse restaurant. The Coast Village Road location is named Khao Kaeng by Empty Bowl Gourmet Noodle Bar, and the fresh, new name embraces the culture of Empty Bowl’s Chef Nui.
“Khao Kaeng means ‘curry on rice’ in Thai,” says Lee. “We will offer some of our popular menu items from Empty Bowl Gourmet Noodle Bar plus additional comfort specialty Thai food Chef Nui grew up with in Thailand.”
Empty Bowl offers unique menu items such as Roasted Duck Buns, which include two Chinese Bao buns steamed until they are light and fluffy, sliced roasted duck, crisp cucumber, pickled carrots, daikon, cilantro and hoisin sauce. They are best known for noodle bowls, which are fresh takes on classic dishes. A dish that embodies this is “Pad Thai Khao San Road,” which includes a traditional Thai noodle dish of stir-fried thin rice noodles, bean sprouts and chopped peanuts with organic egg, but pushes the boundaries with unique additions like garlic chive, tofu, tamarind, fish sauce and dried chilies. The new Montecito location adds even more distinctive dishes to the already daring menu of Empty Bowl.
This story was originally published in the Winter 2017-18 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.