The Mandalay food bus (actually a cleverly fitted out food truck in an old bus chassis) is a long-standing Canberra institution. I’ve been there and enjoyed the foods too many times to count and every foodie in Canberra has a story to tell about it, either from a recent trip or from decades ago when it first became popular.
I will come back to this post and add some stories and newsclips about how loved and admired the bus is amongst decades of clientele.
In the last couple of years the bus has experienced a classic inner-city hipster revival as food vans and trucks experience a world=wide renaissance. The bus was recently resuscitated by a group of young local chefs working with the son of the original owner.
Although the hours vary you can usually find the lights on and a small crowd milling in the adjoining carpark.
My recent experience was of a friendly and cool atmosphere with amazingly delicious food.
It wasn’t very big, but this $9 satay chicken kimchee roti from tasted like nothing else I’d had. It packed a big flavour punch and I was tempted to buy a few more… maybe another time.
The Mandalay Bus opens most Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and the menu varies regularly – giving regulars plenty of reasons to come back for more! Three Canberra Beanies.
I used to be a regular at Debacle in Canberra when I worked around the corner. The staff were friendly and I’ve made a few close friends from the regulars and staff. Debacle taught me that Canberra has the most sophisticated waiting staff in Australia. Many of the young adults working bars and waiting tables in and around civic are also struggling to make ends meet while they finish their university studies. Don’t be surprised in Canberra if your bartender or waiter is also doing a PhD!
Anyway, about three years ago our office moved to City Walk and I subsequently became a less-frequent customer but its still a place I like to visit for a drink or meal when time permits. Yesterday I was there to have a working lunch with an old friend so I offered to shout her from the specials board on the condition she let me photograph her meal. Who would say no to that?!
I ordered a soup and she ordered a pulled pork roll. I also bought us a couple of lemon, lime and bitters at the counter, grabbed our table number and sat down to chat.
The meals arrived in around 10 minutes. The portions were generous and I was completely full by the end. The soup came with LOTS of tasty pita bread and my friend couldn’t find the room to finish her chips. I was tempted but I left them alone (yep, still on that CSIRO diet folks!).
I still like Debacle very much and if you stick to the specials board or come for the two-for-one pizza nights, it’s certainly in the affordable price range.
Highly recommended – Three Canberra Beanies!