Chat Thai

Chat Thai

I remember almost two years ago Sydney foodies were whispering about a new place in Haymarket that was joining the likes of Wentworth Avenue’s Spice I Am in dishing up authentic Thai food. It was new, it was exciting and it was welcomed with open arms and mouths. Today the Chat Thai empire is going strong with three other outlets in Sydney, keeping up with the demand for true uncomplicated and undiluted Thai cuisine. My prediction is a hard-cover cookbook is just over the horizon and I know many a fan will be adding it to their collection. I know I will.

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For the few of you that haven’t yet had the pleasure of eating at the Campbell Street outlet, your first impression as you wait outside in the queue, may be a mesmerizing one as you’re fixated on the busy cooks in the front kitchen grilling, pounding, frying, pouring and plating up a feast of dishes for the dine-in punter or on-the-run takeaway consumer.

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You’ve writen your name on the self-check-in clipboard and taken your number so you may as well work up more of an appetite watching and smelling the preparation of fried chicken pieces and pork balls, grilled meats and toasted coconut puddings. It’s just everyday stuff in Thailand.

The venue is a narrow, open-plan lofty warehouse with raw brick walls and exposed beams, modern art here and there and an additional floating mezzanine dining level for a bird-eye view of the entire goings on. The menu is exensive and creative and not the typical Oz/Thai menu you can normally recite no matter where you go in this country.
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Today’s visit was for a quick lunch so we start with mu bhing (2) – skewered and chargrilled pork marinated in galangal, lemongrass and garlic with a side of nahm jim jeaw dipping sauce. It’s one of my favourites and strong in garlic and lemongrass.

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On its heels comes the khao mu daeng (8.9), a lovely dish of bbq pork, crisp pork belly and chinese sausage with pickled plum sauce, lemongrass and rice. The belly pork is beautifully tender and fatty and the rice is laced with aromatic cassia. Absolutely delicious.

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Seconds later our khao mun gai (8.8) arrives accompanied with a bowl of warm gourd soup. The bland, moist chicken goes well with the ginger and yellow bean relish.

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As a sweet ending I order a plate of khanom craok (6), sweet and salty coconut cream puddings that you watch being prepared in a griddle when you walk into the restaurant.The first time I tried these was by the khlong at Damnoen Saduak. Aaah … the memories. The hot, sweet and salty custard is wobbly delicious and coconutty.

As we ordered our dessert the people next us got the ice bread (6), a bright pink mound of shaved ice sitting on soft bread. The ice is drizzled with condensed milk and rosewater syrup. I just might have to give this a go next time we visit.

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