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Santa Barbara's Favorite Kind of Empty Bowl Found at Asian Street-Food Inspired Noodle Bar

By Kelly Church

After travelling through southeast Asia, Jerry Lee returned to Santa Barbara, CA to open Empty Bowl Gourmet Noodle Bar. Lee envisioned a restaurant that recreated Asia's variety of street noodles. His restaurant has now been open for almost three years and is located in the Santa Barbara Public Market. The noodle bar is small, with only 20 seats available, but Lee says it's a fast-paced environment, and people get in and out quickly. 

Lee says the Khao Soi Northern Thai Curry is one of his favorites. The curry from northern Thailand has a yellow curry base and is paired with egg noodles, chicken, and topped with pickled mustard greens and crispy egg noodles.

Other menu items include Bangkok Street Noodles with thin rice noodles, barbecue pork, minced pork, pork meatballs and an assortment of veggies and seasonings. Lee also crafts Roasted Duck Buns, an appetizer that combines steamed Chinese bao buns with roasted duck, cucumber, pickled carrots, daikon, cilantro and hoisin sauce. 

Both Lee and his business partner are certified sommeliers, as well. Their drink menu is designed to offer "interesting wine pairings with all the dishes" at Empty Bowl Gourmet Noodle Bar. Wines can be purchased by the glass, and there are white, red and sparkling options. Sake is also offered, as is beer on tap and in the bottle. 

Empty Bowl Gourmet Noodle Bar is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday and Monday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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