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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Satang Thai, Haymarket

chicken with chilli jam
Chicken with chilli jam with rice $7.50

I've often gone by the theory that the smaller the kitchen to dining room ratio, the greater the chance of a decent feed.

Satang Thai has about a 1:1 ratio when it comes to kitchen versus dining area. You literally couldn't swing a cat in there, and yet somehow they fit in four tiny staff members, all clanging away over fiery woks or operating pneumatic cleavers on chopping blocks.

The dining area is equally tiny. There are rustic wooden benches and stools, but these are few and rarely vacant. Instead a constant crowd of uni students and office workers congregate on the footpath, waiting hungrily for their order number to be called, in a weekday game of lunchtime lotto.

satang thai shopfront

The best thing about low overheads, of course, is the reassurance that more of your meal's price has gone towards to the raw cost of its ingredients. I'm the kind of cheapskate who would happily get their own cutlery to save a dollar. At Satang Thai there is a happy compromise; here the waitstaff will deposit a heavy silver treasure chest to your table which, upon opening, reveals a divided chamber of forks and spoons for table patrons to self-dispense.

fork and spoon tin

There's a happy sense of casual familiarity about the place. Cans of cola and lemonade share communal fridge space with bags of sprouts and green vegetables for the kitchen. Another shelf contains jugs of chilled water which regular customers grab for their table, helping themselves to glasses on the service counter top. Tables have silver serviette dispensers and the plastic cover on the condiment tray pulls back to reveal pots of salt sugar [thanks Shez for the correction], chilli flakes, chilli sauce and chilli oil.

chilli condiments

The food? It’s cheap, tasty and fresh. And the portion sizes are more than generous.

stir fry chicken with vegetables and rice
Chicken stir-fried with mixed vegetables $7.50

Chicken stir fry is a health-giving mass of tender Asian vegetables, strips of chicken, carrot batons, mushroom and baby corn on a bed of rice.

The chilli jam chicken [top] is tasty too, even if it does err a little on the sweet side.

chicken drunky rice noodles
Chicken drunky stir-fried spicy rice noodles $8.50

Chicken drunky appeals to me immediately and not just because of its whimsical name. It has a slight taste of Chinese rice wine but chicken tipsy would probably be more accurate. The flat rice noodles are soft and slippery but although I love the heat, I find the sauce a tad oily and sweet.

pad thai with chicken
Pad Thai with chicken $8.50

The pad thai is a mountain of noodle framed on each corner with careful piles of crushed peanuts, a tangle of sprouts, a bouquet of chives and fat wedges of lemon. The noodles are unusually thin for this dish and although I do prefer my pad thai less saucy and redolent with tomato, it's a satisfying lunch regardless.

pad see ew with chicken flat rice noodle
Pad See Ew with chicken $8.50

Pad see ew has probably been my favourite encounter so far, a comforting dish of wide ribbons of rice noodle stir-fried with vegetables and egg, and coated in a thick sauce of breathtaking chilli and sweet soy.

There are one hundred satang to one Thai baht and given its menu, prices and "a la carte" offerings, the daily crowds at Satang Thai start to make perfect cents to me.

satang thai

Satang Thai
20 Quay St, Haymarket, Sydney

(opposite the Country Comfort near Railway Square)
Tel: +61 (02) 9280 0956

BYO, unlicensed
Eat-in or takeaway
(very limited seating)

Related GrabYourFork posts:
Other Thai restaurants in Sydney
Cafe Kasturi, Haymarket
Longrain, Surry Hills
Ploy Thai, Haymarket
Selina, Fairfield
Spice I Am, Surry Hills

24 comments - Add some comment love

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posted by Helen (AugustusGloop) on 8/08/2006 11:57:00 pm


24 Comments:

  • At 8/09/2006 3:18 am, Blogger Austin said…

    Everything about that place looks very, very Thai--except, ironically, the food!

    By the way, what does BYO stand for in this case? Bring Your Own what?

     
  • At 8/09/2006 9:22 am, Anonymous deborah said…

    oh you finally blogged this place. satang thai has saved many nights of hunger for us.

     
  • At 8/09/2006 9:26 am, Anonymous Ellie said…

    Oh yum! Can't speak for authenticity, but pad thai and pad see ew are two of my favourite dishes to order when I go out for Thai food :D

    And I absolutely agree with your theory of kitchen to dining room ratio - some of the best feeds I've had from Asian restaurants have been in tiny little places which are usually so packed that it's even hard to find standing room!

     
  • At 8/09/2006 9:55 am, Anonymous ed - http://www.sydneytable.com/ said…

    No way! I didn't think that many people (outside the office workers ofcourse) knew about Satang Thai!
    Although they did put it in the back of Good Living last week when I mentioned it on their blog so maybe the cat's out of the bag.
    I love the stirfries. The pad prik khing is by far my favourite, but the pad prik sod is also great.
    How'd you hear about it?

     
  • At 8/09/2006 10:43 am, Anonymous nicholas b said…

    Augustus/Helen - Satang is a favourite of mine for quick, cheap and as you said, substantial servings.. Your reviewing places like this, and the photos, reinforce what I said about preferring GYF to the SMH and Good Living..

    Austin - BYO indicates that you can bring your own beer or wine and drink it with your meal

     
  • At 8/09/2006 10:56 am, Blogger tytty said…

    somehow you sounded innocently cute in this post.

    i passed by this place many times. after reading your post, perhaps it's time to drop in.

    i wish thai places wouldn't cook their food unauthentically sweet though. maybe they should give sweet ratings like how you can choose your chilli heat rating.

     
  • At 8/09/2006 11:18 am, Blogger jenjen said…

    I have never seen this Thai place before. It's so cheap compared to others!

    I admit I am one of those few people who like my chilli jam sweet. I think it goes to show how much of a sweet tooth I am. But this looks like a place to check out. Thanks Helen.

     
  • At 8/09/2006 11:32 am, Anonymous Peter said…

    I got really sick after having take away lunch there, and so did a couple of my workmates, all in different occasions. But I agree: the taste is nice.

     
  • At 8/09/2006 12:26 pm, Anonymous ed - http://www.sydneytable.com/ said…

    peter, actually it's interesting you mention that. i've gotten sick twice (different occasions...) after eating there. i think i've learned my lesson, but it's still good.

     
  • At 8/09/2006 2:15 pm, Blogger My float said…

    Every time I visit your blog, I end up salivating. Yum, yum, yum.

     
  • At 8/09/2006 10:01 pm, Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said…

    Hi Austin - A lot of Thai food in Australia is sweeter than its native origins, just like many other transplanted cuisines!

    BYO, as Nicholas explains below, means Bring Your Own alcohol. In Australia it's quite common for restauranteurs to allow you to bring your own alcohol to have with your meal if they don't possess a liquor licence (to sell alcohol). Sometimes they will charge you "corkage" - a fee per person or wine bottle for this privilege (and impact on their profit projections).

    Hi Deborah - It has quite the fanclub as I'm fast discovering!

    Hi Ellie - I love pad thai too, but I like mine quite dry with lots of lemon juice.

    I love little eateries too. They have so much more atmosphere!

    Hi ed - I live to eat. Enough said. lol.

    Hi Nicholas B - *blush* The Good Living liftout is the highlight of my week, so I'm immensely flattered that you would compare me so.

    I have to say I'm not taken with the new format though. It's hard on the eye and visibly heavy on advertising.

    Hi tytty - Innocently cute? lol. I think that'd have to be a first!

    I agree with you on the sweetness overkill though. I presume that Satang Thai could probably tailor sauciness and sweetness to preference though if you ask.

    Hi jenjen - You will have to check it out. It is very cheap esp given the portion size.

    I do like sweet chilli jam but then it would have to be in moderation, rather than doused liberally all over my meal =) But as you point out, everyone has their own preferences!

    Hi Peter and Ed - That doesn't sound good. I've never been sick and neither have my colleagues. I would've thought that the intense heat from those woks would have killed anything undesireable!

    Hi myfloat - Thanks. My job is done! lol.

     
  • At 8/10/2006 9:32 am, Blogger Veruca Salt said…

    I must check this place out. It all looks so yummy.

    I thought I was over Thai but your photos are making me hungry!

     
  • At 8/10/2006 9:17 pm, Blogger cin said…

    We went to an Asian restaurant in Prague (okay, okay so I had a craving!) and ended up paying about AUD12 for a condiment dish like the one you photographed! Of course, we didn't know that's what it would be as they described it as a side dish of an assortment of chillies...hmmmm

     
  • At 8/11/2006 1:48 am, Blogger duckiekitchen said…

    Hi Helen, I went to this place once, just once. We had the pad see ew, but wasn't good, perhaps just that day:) I would recommend you to Spice I am at Elizabeth St, Surry Hills. The quality is always very consistent. We love the fish curry and the crispy pork belly with basil. Our Thai friends say this is the best Thai restaurant in Sydney:)

     
  • At 8/12/2006 2:45 pm, Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said…

    Hi Veruca - Yeah I'm usually not that in Thai these days. But I still have a weak spot for a good pad thai. You'll have to check it out sometime.

    Hi Cin - I know that Asian-craving feeling! We once resorted to Chinese in Vienna and everything had this funny European pickled slant to it! I can just imagine your faces when the chilli dish arrived too!

    Hi duckiekitchen - Oh I'm a big fan of Spice I Am as I've linked in the original post above. I keep meaning to head back there asap!

     
  • At 8/14/2006 2:20 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I've also been to this place for lunch and I had a bad experience. It took over 30mins for my pad thai to arrive and it wasn't that good either. I probably won't go back again. Servings are huge though but I prefer quality over quantity

     
  • At 8/14/2006 9:03 pm, Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said…

    Hi Anonymous - Thanks for your comment. I guess all those students are often driven by value for money!

     
  • At 8/14/2006 10:57 pm, Blogger shez said…

    satang is great! i'm constantly craving their thai chicken fried rice :) though the pad thai does have strangely thin noodles.

    i thought the white substance in the condiment basket was sugar. never tried it, but when i went to thailand, every little noodle/rice/snack shop in bangkok had a bowl of sugar on the table that the locals applied liberally to their meal - sweet or savoury - so i always assumed the sweetness was an authentic thing :)

     
  • At 8/15/2006 12:01 am, Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said…

    Hi Shez - You're right. That stuff is sugar. I remember tasting it once, but I had forgotten. I just automatically presumed it was salt when I wrote this post. Thanks for picking me up on it.

     
  • At 9/13/2007 12:06 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Finally a blog that recognises what a real "atmosphere" is. Being out in the hustle and bustle of the street, hearing the Thai shouting of the staff in the kitchen (more like a second dining room), the constant wiping down of the soiled tables to make them fresh and shiny again. I would seriously rather take my date here than to some stuffy, overpriced Italian restaurant in some trendy suburb...

     
  • At 9/14/2007 10:27 pm, Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said…

    Hi Anon - Ahh you've almost taken me back there again with your vivid description. I agree, I would absolutely prefer a cheap and cheerful dinner date than a stuffy hush-hush establishment with the charisma of a surgery room :)

     
  • At 2/04/2009 1:16 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The choo-chee prawn here is a major disappointment, based on this dish alone will never go back.

    Epic fail !

     
  • At 2/05/2009 6:25 pm, Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said…

    Hi Anon - If all you eat is choo chee prawn, then fair enough :)

     
  • At 5/27/2013 1:14 pm, Anonymous Nick said…

    I'm sad that all the UTS students eat here rather than exploring all the other interesting things around. It's good and cheap but I rarely see students at Caysorn and I think that's much more interesting

     

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