Shop 22-23 Sunny Park Shopping Centre, Sunnybank
As much as I like to think I am the food authority in my family, mum and dad are catching up as the ones who are in the know with new Asian restaurants in Brisbane. They told me they tried Soman a few times and predicted it would be right up my alley. I thought it was time I took my family out for dinner for a change (as opposed to mooching off them) so I decided to take their recommendation.
When we got there at lunch time, we must've been early because the restaurant was empty and the sign said closed. Dad tentatively poked his nose in and saw my grandparents were already seated inside. Good timing, yeh?
Soman specializes in food from the Hunan province in China, which is known for its use of chili, garlic and shallots. We decided to keep things simple and not muck around with deciding what to order; by that I mean everyone ordered one dish. Very diplomatic and fair.
The first dish that arrived was cumin lamb stir-fry. The lamb was extremely tender but it didn't taste like lamb? My idea of lamb has a, well, 'lamby' flavor that can't be otherwise described. This meat was mild... it could've been anything. I would've guessed beef. The flavor the the stir-fry in general though was awesome. A perfect blend of spiciness, sweet and salty with a subtle cumin undertone.
Next came the chili tripe dish. This was also spicy but had a fresh, tangy flavor to it that complimented the tripe. I suppose this is more Summer-friendly than the others. Tripe isn't for everyone but I enjoyed this dish.
Spicy stir-fried stomach (possibly)
Dad ordered a stir-fry that had something... I think it was part of a pig's stomach? Hmm... this type of food is best not described in English. The way it was cooked was similar to the cumin lamb but without the cumin.
Eggplant with mince
My pick was spicy eggplant with mince. I order spicy eggplant whenever I see it. This one was really, really good. The general consensus was that it was the best dish of the lot. The eggplant was cooked to perfect texture and the sauce was again, extremely flavorsome and well-balanced. There was a problem with the egglant... it was presented in a way that the end was left on so that the pieces off eggplant fanned out like a flower. It's good for presentation but not practical for eating. The eggplant tasted good but was so difficult to pull apart.
Steamed pork chops and potato
The last dish that arrived was grandma's. It was an odd one... imagine ground up glutinous rice (or something... I'm not sure actually; just guessing) coated on some pork chops and that steamed with potato. The dish she wanted was supposed to be made of pork belly but they didn't have any so they used pork chops instead. This dish was interesting but I didn't like the meat very much. It was too bland for my liking. The potato was very nice though and had an amazing texture. We spent ages trying to figure out what kind of vegetable it was.
I liked Soman because this is my type of food. I love dishes that are saucy, spicy and full of flavor. Normally, I give rice a miss but that's not an option with any of these dishes because they are begging to be mopped up with plain old steamed rice. It's true that some of the dishes are a bit oily but that's the compromise. Food came out fairly fast and the service was reasonable.