Posts Tagged ‘Thai’
‘David Thompson‘s name is synonymous with Thai cuisine.’ From Darley Street Thai to Sailors Thai, he pioneered Thai eateries in Sydney. He is the Australian chef who opened a Thai restaurant in Bangkok. I was missing Asian food dearly and was delighted that the original Nahm in London was located near our hotel. In the boutique The Halkin, Nahm was an intimate dining experience.
Decorated in shades of tan and caramel, a row of round tables were in the middle of the dining room and the chairs were comfortable.
We snacked on meaty morsels of ma hor, an appetising amuse bouche courtesy of the chef. Minced prawns and chicken simmered in palm sugar, fried shallots, garlic and peanuts were atop segments of fresh pineapple and mandarin.
We ordered a selection of dishes to share between three. The first was latiang, chicken and crab egg nets with caramelised coconut and lemongrass. Popularised by Longrain chef Martin Boetz on MasterChef Australia, this version of egg nets was presented in a roll. A light lattice of fine egg strands encased a moist and fragrant filling.
Our waiter recommended the yam hua bplii gung, a fresh and zingy salad of grilled prawns and banana blossoms tossed with chilli jam.
Scottish scallops were stir fried with chillies and wild ginger. Plump discs paired with crunchy greens, the hoi shenn pat prik thai orn was simple yet luscious.
All three of us were duck lovers and the pbet yang pat tor huu yii was superb. Chinese style roast duck was on a bed of bean curd, basil and Siamese watercress. The savoury sauce and grassy herbs tempered the fatty duck.
A classic Thai curry, the geng mussaman neua had tender chunks of beef in a viscous paste of aromatics including cassia, cloves, cumin and shallots. Generous dollops were savoured on steamed rice.
The others sipped coffee while I perused the dessert menu. A silver bowl contained rock sugar which had a mellow sweetness.
Kanom mor geng peuak, a scoop of charred coconut pudding were angled on a taro fritter. The two white blobs were kao mao bot, ancestor biscuits with a young coconut filling.
It was an expensive but delectable meal!
I spent twelve hours in Portland last Friday. I had visited Vancouver three times in the past year but had not travelled south to Oregon. Crossing the Columbia River Bridge was a spectacular entrance into the state and city. Of Portlandia and tax-free shopping fame, Portlanders were friendly and I adored their boutiques. A stoic posy of daffodils defied the cool temperatures, sheltered by a flowering camellia tree.
A curious structure of wooden beams, corrugated roofing and bamboo walls, the aesthetics were of Southeast Asian hawker stalls.
Festive lights twinkled and the heater glowed. Water was steeped in pandan leaves which tasted of toasted rice.
The dense menu detailed ingredients and cooking methods for each dish.
Although tempted by a Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk, I was already buzzing from two caffeinated beverages. I selected a glass of cha manao instead, a Thai iced tea with fresh lime juice. It was refreshing and its delicate sweetness tempered the bold flavours.
Three of us shared four main courses and one dessert. The Pok Pok special was a plate of game hen (kai yaang) and papaya salad. Roasted on a rotisserie over charcoal, the portions of chicken were smoky and tender. The spicy sweet and sour, and tamarind dipping sauces were appetizing, so much so that I emptied the remainder onto coconut rice and sticky rice. Julienne green papaya, halved cherry tomatoes, batons of snake beans and crunchy peanuts were mixed with Thai chilli, lime juice, tamarind, fish sauce, garlic and palm sugar.
Next was gulf prawns grilled over charcoal (kung phao). The charred shell peeled easily and the succulent crustacean was swirled in the shallow bowl of lime, garlic, coriander root and chilli sauce.
Ike’s Vietnamese fish sauce wings are a Pok Pok signature. Marinated in fish sauce and palm sugar, deep fried, and tossed in caramelised Phú Quốc fish sauce (nước mắm) and garlic, the poultry was served with pickles, lettuce and slices of cucumber. The chicken wings were an ominous crimson and each bite numbed our mouths. Our lips tingled and our fingers sticky, they were a fiery highlight.
A classic Thai stir-fried rice noodles, the phat si ew was silky and peppery. A dark soy tan, and flecked with Carlton Farms pork, Chinese broccoli and egg, I would have been happy eating only this as my meal.
We ignored the durian dessert and ordered the coconut ice cream sandwich. Wedged in a brioche bun on a bed of sticky rice were four scoops of coconut jackfruit ice cream sprinkled with peanuts and drizzled with condensed milk. We requested no chocolate syrup and also abandoned the bread. Coconut, sticky rice, peanuts and condensed milk were a pleasing combination.
Pok Pok readied us for an afternoon of shopping!
An ornate room is lined with columns and features a marble bar. Brightly lit with a high ceiling, bar tables surround the perimeter.
Gin Garden is at the back, wrought iron gates open to an urban oasis. A glass roof is partially covered by bamboo which filters in natural light.
Lush green plants grow along the exposed brick walls and the gentle splashes of the fountain amplify the tropical ambience.
The menu is split into Thai and Australian. Thai classics included beef salads, stir fries, curries and noodles. Lamb, burgers, fish and chips, schnitzel and pasta were categorised as Australian.
A maître d’ seats diners and from there it is self-service. You order and pay at the bar, and pick up the meals on rattan trays when the electronic pager beeps and buzzes.
I had a lovely lunch with an ex-colleague. In between conversations, we enjoyed our plates of pad see ew. Stir fried in a sticky soy sauce was a generous serving of rice noodles, chicken, carrot, snow peas, Chinese broccoli and egg garnished with chilli. A wedge of lemon and sprigs of coriander freshened the meal.
We whiled away a couple of hours in the greenhouse, reluctantly exited into the spring rain.
The Boeing Dreamliner, President Obama and Princess Mary all followed us to Australia. We’re enjoying the sunshine, jacarandas in bloom, wearing sunglasses and flip-flops, nostalgic walks, and sentimental meals.
Restore, revitalise, rejuvenate. Despite the beauty of the Seattle autumn I’ve had a bout of homesickness and this was a timely trip home.
In an effort to adjust to the time zone we spent our first day in Sydney in the city. We got lost in the asymmetrical corridors and oddly shaped levels of the new Westfield Sydney. I was delighted at the selection of restaurants and we had an early lunch at Chat Thai.
A modern and stylish design, the entrance of the eatery had a row of leather chairs and tiered floral displays. Timber planks covered the ceiling and a gleaming open plan kitchen entertained the crowds.
The interior is decorated in muted tones and featured exposed brick walls. Round and rectangle tables accommodated groups of varying sizes. We were seated quickly just before midday and within ten minutes the dining room was full.
The menu was a colour printed, hardcopy bound book with scrumptious photography. I had read that it had been ‘souvenired’ by many diners!
As is the custom at many Asian restaurants, the menu items were numbered. Nearly ninety dishes were categorised as starters, grilled and fried, spicy salads, curries and soups, wok fried, seafood, noodles, and ‘one plate wonders’. There was a separate menu for desserts and beverages.
A balance of salty, sweet, sour and bitter flavours is fundamental to Thai cuisine. Glass containers of condiments could be requested to moderate the seasoning.
Sticky and chewy, bites of fresh spring rolls were appetising. Smoked fish sausage, chicken and crab were wrapped in rice paper and doused in caramelised tamarind relish.
Morsels of poached snapper were tossed with a spicy dressing and salad leaves. The larpb bpla was fiery and delicious.
Ba mee haeng bped, roast duck with egg noodles, were piled into a ceramic bowl and garnished with green onions and cilantro. Simple yet delicious, the firm strands of egg noodles were perfectly paired with tender pieces of duck.
We reluctantly left without dessert but I lingered at the counter and spotted trays of kanom buaing, sweet wafers with meringue, and threads of candied egg yolk and herbs.
A basket of ripe mangoes were ready for sticky rice.
Instead of an apple a day, I will be eating mangoes!
I walked to Chinatown-International District on Chinese New Year this year. My first visit to the neighbourhood, I was expecting a festive atmosphere, maybe hear the rhythmic echoes of drums, cymbals and gongs of a lion dance performance. Or at least red and gold banners wishing me happiness and prosperity.
There was none of that. It was eerily quiet and I counted two other people on the main street. The leaden sky blurred into the drab buildings, the entire area washed in shades of grey. Dilapidated and grimy, I left disappointed and a little homesick for the vibrant Sydney Chinatown.
I have since returned several times, mostly to frequent Uwajimaya. There are also a handful of non-Chinese eateries that justify the hyphenated neighbourhood, Chinatown-International District.
Expectations are clear in the succinctly named Thai Curry Simple! Located opposite a public transport hub, Thai Curry Simple is busy but efficient during a weekday lunch service. Many nearby workers order take-away, others seat themselves in the small dining room.
There is an extensive list of hot and cold drinks available, a good selection of classic curries on the menu, and daily specials, all colourfully chalked onto blackboards and prominently displayed.
The meals are a bargain, priced at five and six dollars. A rotation of tofu curries will satisfy vegetarians. I’m intrigued by the Thai roti desserts, each combination illustrated with a photo of delectable sweetness.
I was contemplating a curry until I spotted the pad see ew as one of the daily specials. I love flat rice noodles and I paired it with tofu as an alternative protein to chicken.
Some of the tables were laminated with Thai scripts with writing instructions and drawings.
No star or chilli symbols are used to indicate the spiciness of the curries, each table has a jar of fiery chilli sauce for individuals to increase the heat level of the dishes. My tolerance is improving but I did not open the lid on this warm day!
My pad see ew was speedily served. It was a perfect lunch portion, fresh from the wok. Silky ribbons of rice noodles were entwined with Chinese broccoli, fragments of fried eggs and cubes of tofu. Stir fried in a sticky soy sauce, the pad see ew was homely and delicious.
With the lunch crowd dispersed, the owner said hello to me as he went to speak with one of his regular customers. He suggested I stay a while as it’s cool inside.
I read the details of each of the roti, and was surprised to find two savoury options. My tastebuds would get really confused eating cheese and scrambled eggs drizzled with condensed milk. It would be like a Thai breakfast burrito!
I retreated to the safety of roti with condensed milk and sugar. A thin veneer of condensed milk is spread on the roti, sprinkled with sugar, rolled and pan fried. The flaky log is served sliced into bite size morsels. Simple and scrumptious, I was tempted to eat a second one of these.
I will return with Mr S and friends to sample their ‘real Thai food’ Saturday lunches!
I’ve been desperately searching for quality Asian restaurants in Seattle. When I ask for recommendations, there are Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese eateries but sadly no Chinese or Thai. ‘How’s the yum cha in Chinatown?’ My hope is instantly deflated by the hesitant response. Several have suggested a road trip to Richmond. As in British Columbia, Canada. Three hours’ drive to a different country.
I miss the ‘wok breath’ of stir-fried dishes, scalding bowls of laksa in dingy food courts, aromatic massaman curry with chunks of melt-in-mouth beef, the simple and nourishing flavours of a whole steamed fish … I could go on and on!
It was with trepidation that we entered Wild Ginger for a late Friday dinner. Really, what is ‘eastern Pacific Rim’ cuisine? I had expected the restaurant to be constricted to the dining room along Union Street and I was surprised to find booth seating and a mezzanine level in the lofty space. We were seated in a corner with street view and it was cosy without being too dim.
There was an extensive standard menu and also a one page specials menu. As is tradition with many Asian cuisines, the dishes are designed to be shared. There was a satay section with various proteins, soups, salads, curries, noodles and sides, and seafood featured prominently.
Mr S enjoyed a Tsingtao beer as we discussed what to order. Thankfully most dishes were available in two sizes. The first stop on our food tour of Asia was Thailand. The peasant’s chicken were two skewers of chicken marinated in coconut curry and served with Thai peanut sauce, pickled vegetables and a cube of sticky rice. These satay sticks reminded Mr S of ones he grew up with at Parap Markets in Darwin. Tender and charred, the fragrant chicken was lovely with the spicy sauce.
We crossed borders into Vietnam for soft-shell crab with garlic, lemongrass and pepper. Ugly in appearance, these crustaceans were soaking in a delectable sauce. Although a little oily, the legs were delightfully crispy, and the body creamy and juicy.
For the main, we returned to Thailand for Wild Ginger’s signature duck. Spiced with cinnamon and star anise, the pieces of duck are hidden under sprigs of cilantro. Gently pry open the fluffy steamed buns, dollop on sweet plum sauce, wedge in as much duck as possible, top with cilantro leaves and you have an Asian burger! Chewing slowly, we ate these in silence.
A side of wild mushrooms with pea pods were distinctively Cantonese. Coated in oyster sauce, the thick slices of mushrooms were meaty and the snow peas crunchy.
We opted to share the dessert special of coconut sticky rice with fresh mango. Grocery stores and farmers markets are stacked with trays of mangoes in an Australian summer. I savoured each bite of the yellow flesh, firm and sweet. The ball of sticky rice had a curious caramel glaze and a light dusting of toasted coconut flakes.
I think we have found a restaurant to temporarily sate my Asian palate, albeit a fusion approach!
Australians love Thai cuisine, so much so that David Thompson opened a branch of his 2010 Michelin starred Nahm in Bangkok. We’ve dined at Thai restaurants where the service is impeccable and the food memorable, but there are also many eateries in the city and in the suburbs where fresh, fast and cheap Thai food is served to satiate late night crowds or quickly delivered for family dinners.
I received a text message from Mr S that prompted me to deviate from my usual lunch. He had spotted a Thai food truck on the corner of Fairview and Mercer in South Lake Union. I miss our weekly take-away from our local Thai in Sydney so I was keen to find a replacement in Seattle. An endearing hand painted sign directed me to the parking lot, where a handful of people were loitering, waiting for their orders. Food trucks aren’t renowned for their aesthetic designs and Kaosamai is no different. It is painted a bright orange, glaring on a sunny day.
On the menu is the standard Thai fare of noodles, fried rice, spring rolls, stir-fries and curries, each with a choice of proteins. A head poked out from the small and high window and I stood on tiptoes to place my order. Pad see ew is my favourite Thai dish and I was curious to try a version cooked in a truck. To me pad see ew are rice noodles wok fried in light and dark soy sauce with egg and Chinese broccoli tossed in. Sometimes there’s heat from chilli and a hint of fish sauce. Garlic is the aromatic used and assorted vegetables can be added. I like mine with crunchy carrots, capsicum (bell pepper) and snow peas piled on, with cubes of tofu to soak up the sweet-savoury sauce.
If I was in a blind taste test, I would have guessed this to be pad Thai. The slippery ribbons of rice noodles had the slightly sour flavour of tamarind which is the key ingredient in pad Thai. It confused my tastebuds - it lacked the depth and complexity of other Thai dishes and yet, it wasn’t bad. Despite having to pick out the cabbage, it was a gentle introduction to Seattle Thai.