SA Life

Get CityMag in your inbox. Subscribe
May 10, 2017

Just One Thing… at Zen Kitchen

Your guide to Adelaide's lesser-known, must-try menu items takes on a city central lunch-time hot spot.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  • Story: Sharmonie Cockayne

Welcome back to Just One Thing – a WikiEats for Adelaide – where CityMag guides you through many of the lesser-known-but-crazy-delicious things to try on your next food adventure.


23 Austin St, Adelaide
Renaissance Arcade (enter the arcade via Charles St, Austin St, or Pulteney St)

Mon-Thurs: 10.30am – 4.30pm
Fri: 10.30am – 8pm
Sat: 11am – 3pm

After somewhat of a siesta (in which Christmas and the loosening of our belts happened), we’re returning to Just One Thing and celebrating with a visit to a favourite haunt of many university students and hurried office workers: Zen Kitchen.

Located in the centre of Renaissance Arcade (tucked away between North Terrace and Rundle Mall), Zen Kitchen sits proudly across from an empty hairdressing salon and adjacent to the rarely frequented escalators that lead to the women’s underwear section of David Jones, waiting in anticipation for the daily lunch-time rush.

CityMag’s first encounter with Zen Kitchen involved ordering the Spicy Lemongrass Chicken Soup after witnessing a high school teacher eating the dish between classes. We were going through a lemongrass phase at the time and couldn’t look past it.

Johnny and Louie ordered other things. Not sure why. They clearly picked wrong.

We’ve since tried all measure of things from Zen Kitchen via the plates of others, but still can’t find anything to top it.

Layered, from bottom to top, with lettuce, bean sprouts, vermicelli noodles, sliced chicken, red onion and basil, the soup is an unassumingly enormous meal. It doesn’t sound filling, it doesn’t look ridiculously filling, but trust us when we suggest you just order the small. The small, after all, still requires an unbuttoning of pants.

It’s sweet, it’s savoury – in fact, the flavour alone is enough to merit the deletion of the chewable ingredients. But they’re there as an added bonus! It’s also, as the name might suggest, a bit spicy – a slow burning spice that will hit after three or four mouthfuls.

But, Zen Kitchen’s just one drinkable – the Coconut Smoothie – will soothe the palate like nothing else. Sweet, but not too sweet, iced to perfection, and textured better than Boost Juice in their heyday, there’s not a drink on the menu that complements the Spicy Lemongrass Chicken Soup near as well.

This winter lunch staple will warm the whole body from tongue to toes, and clear out your sinuses too. Those with a sniffly cold need not worry about the stuff stocked in Priceline – we haven’t scientifically tested our theory of course, but we swear this soup temporarily masks colds better than any syrup.

Worth the walk from our Hindley Studio, Zen Kitchen’s Spicy Lemongrass Chicken Soup is just one thing we can’t go without this winter (or any winter, really).

Share —