I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointment when I walked into Taylor Thai. Nothing to do with the restaurant, just the fact that businesses don’t seem to survive in this location. It comes as no surprise, really. Being tucked away beneath an apartment building isn’t cause for concern, but when the apartment building is off on some side street away from through traffic, vehicle or pedestrian, things become an issue. Yes there’s word of mouth, social media and hundreds of residents in the immediate vicinity, but quite often that just isn’t enough.
Cafe Scrumptious wasn’t around for long in this same space, neither was Straits Kaffe, which is a shame as I really liked the food at Straits, so I can only hope this newish Thai place breaks the gloomy trend. Word has it the chef hails from Spice I Am, so it was this word that prompted me to put on my thongs, grab the other half, a bottle of booze and walk the five minutes it takes to get to Taylor Thai from my house.
The menu is in pamphlet form, the kind you get in your letter box, and I couldn’t help but utter the words “It looks like any Oz-Thai menu you get up and down King Street and anywhere else in suburbia”. Curry puffs, tom yum goong, green curry, pad Thai … really? I dug a little deeper and settled on one of the salads, of which there are six choices. Wise move as I craned my neck and peered into the kitchen, spotting one of those big clay mortars sitting on the bench, surrounded by ingredients. This was a good sign.
Anyone that’s been to Thailand would have seen those young girls and aunties out on the street pounding som tum and the like; pounding, layering and adding each ingredient until a deliciously crunchy, juicy and spicy salad is created. Ok, to be honest, the som tum ($11.9) here at Taylor Thai is nowhere near as prik-hot as the ones in Thailand but it’s pretty damn good. Green papaya, tomato, dried shrimp, garlic, peanuts, chilli, lime … you know what I’m talking about.
The selection of entrées is as predictable as ever. Fried spring rolls, curry puffs, pork satay, fish cakes and a couple of others. Deep-fried chicken wings ($5.9) sounded just the ticket. I thought they may have been tossed in something before they were scorched in hot oil, but no, all we have is chicken wings fresh from the fryer. Crunchy and dry with sweet chilli. That is all.
It’d been a while since my last choo chee ($11.9) so I thought it was time to revisit this creamy and golden curry. I usually go the seafood route but somehow it ended up being chicken; coated in a light batter, fried until soft-yet-crispy and generously doused in choo chee sauce. The spice indicators hover just over the mild levels so it’s not too destructive for those with aversions to a bit of prik. I really liked this dish, as I did the pad prik king crispy pork belly ($13.9). I mean, how could I not do pork belly when there are three dishes on the menu that feature it? I’m not one to play favourites but, hold on, yes I am. This was my favourite dish of the night. Thin bits of pork, green beans, a good slug of chilli ( I mean prik), threads of lime leaves, nubs of crunchy pork skin and a gorgeous dry sauce of shrimp paste, fish sauce and whatever else was in there.
Lips tingling. I’m happy. And I’ll be back.