Mu Bhing $1.50 each
Skewered and chargrilled lean pork
marinaded in galangal, lemongrass and garlic
served with a dressing of nam jim jeaw
You know you're getting old when you start getting cagey around your birthday. How old are you? everyone asks. How old do I look? I reply, instead.
But birthdays do bring a whole week's worth of dinner outings with family friends, even if the joy is always tempered by the obligatory Happy Birthday
The new outlet on Campbell Street is the fourth for the burgeoning Chat Thai empire. Every lunchtime and dinner it appears to be packed solid. The open kitchen at the front is bustling, and the queue of waiting diners jams the corridor and spills out the door.
I like the silver drinking cups for water the best. Pressed with intricate patterns, the cups are a little battered but bring them to your lips and the metal is cool and soothing.
I also love the varied drinks menu. The Loot Shong coconut milk drink is of palest green, mixed with pandan noodles and slivers of jackfruit. The pandan noodles are springy to the point of almost being crunchy. I finish mine in about two minutes and immediately order another.
L-R: Loot Shong coconut milk drink with pandan noodles $3.50
Yakult blended with ice $4.00
Thai red tea $3.00
We start with the Mu Bhing pork [top], sweet and caramelised skewers that remind me a little of Vietnamese nem nuong but meatier. The dressing on the side is a fiery little number of roasted chillies, palm sugar, tamarind, tomatoes and ground rice.
Bpla Muek Yang $12.00
Chargrilled squid with fresh chilli relish
made with fresh birds eye chillies, garlic, coriander, lime juice and fish sauce
The Bpla Muek Yang chargrilled squid is probably my favourite of the night. The squid is soft and tender, and I adore the accompanying chilli relish which is a sublime balance of sweet, sour, salty and hot. The flavours are pure and crisp, a perfect accompaniment to the simplicity of chargrilled squid.
Pad Siew Tofu $10.00
Stir fry of thick rice noodles, Chinese broccoli and eggs
The lone vegetarian has the Pad Siew Tofu all to herself, a stir-fry of soft rice noodles mixed with tofu, omelette, carrots and Chinese broccoli.
Gang Som Cha-Om $14.90
Orange soup with omelette and prawns
(not on the menu - just ask)
Gang Som Cha-Om is a bright orange soup that booms with the flavour of genuine prawn stock. Prawns, beans and soft pillows of omelette nestle within, the omelette especially soaks up the flavours of the soup particularly well.
Gai Tort $12.00
Crisp fried chicken marinated in coconut milk, coriander roots and garlic
Gai Tort fried chicken is not the Colonel's recipe I was expecting, but more like Chinese crispy skin chicken, flavoured with coconut milk, coriander and garlic. The chicken is juicy and tender, and the accompanying dish of chilli dressing is thick and fiery.
Bpla Choo Chee $24.00
Fried snapper in rich red curry
Bpla Choo Chee snapper is deep-fried whole then coated with an aromatic red curry, heady with kaffir lime, galangal, lemongrass, garlic and palm sugar. The fish is cooked perfectly, flaking off in buttery chunks.
I tell a colleague I had Chat Thai for dinner the other night and he gives me a funny look. After some clarification he explains that the kids on the street use "chat" to describe anything that is lacking, insufficient or "lame". I confess I've never heard the expression.
It's mainly young people who use it, says Mr 21.
Natch. Of course.
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20 Campbell Street, Haymarket Chinatown, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9211 1808
Open seven days
Shop 5 Food Court, Galeries Victoria Food Court, Sydney
Tel +61 (02) 9264 7109
222a Carrington Road, Randwick, Sydney
Tel +61 (02) 9399 5610
Shop 10, Manly Wharf East Esplanade, Manly, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9976 2939
This has been included on Grab Your Fork's Top 10 Sydney Eats for Tourists. Read the entire list here.
Related GrabYourFork posts:
Chat Thai, Haymarket (Nov10) and (Sep09)
Thai - At Bangkok, Haymarket
Thai - Cafe Kasturi, Haymarket
Thai - Saap Thai, Sydney
Thai - Satang Thai, Haymarket
Thai - Selina, Fairfield
Thai - Spice I Am, Surry Hills (Aug09), (Aug07) and (Nov05)
Thai - Sumalee Thai, Bank Hotel, Newtown
Thai - Thainatown, Sydney (Mar07) and (Jan07)
Thai - Uni Thai, Glebe
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11/27/2007 07:22:00 p.m.