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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Chat Thai, Haymarket Chinatown


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 torture singing ritual. At Chat Thai it's an all-in event, the restaurant lights dimming and the entire kitchen brigade coming out to clap-clap a Thai version of Happy Birthday To You.

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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Chat Thai on Urbanspoon


Chat Thai
20 Campbell Street, Haymarket Chinatown, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9211 1808

Open seven days
Lunch
: 10am-5pm
Dinner: 5pm-10pm
Supper: 9.30pm-2am

Also at
Sydney City
Shop 5 Food Court, Galeries Victoria Food Court, Sydney
Tel +61 (02) 9264 7109

Randwick
222a Carrington Road, Randwick, Sydney
Tel +61 (02) 9399 5610

Manly
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

13 comments - Add some comment love

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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 11/27/2007 07:22:00 pm


13 Comments:

  • At 11/27/2007 8:29 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I just laughed out loud at the 'chat' description.. it's like a description that something is bad/dodgy/disgusting

    The food looks delish though.. I love the sound of the drinks!

     
  • At 11/27/2007 11:15 pm, Blogger Rachel said…

    Wow more cool thai dishes that are not variations of your usual suburban menu. I am curious as to find out .. if its not on the menu ... how do you know to ask for it?? What _other_ interesting delights could be behind the counter as it were?

    Gotta also love a place with interesting drinks!

    Hope you had a great birth-week can't wait to see more of your celebrations :)

     
  • At 11/28/2007 10:19 am, Blogger lyn said…

    happy birthday!!!

    chat thai has now become my favourite among the thai eateries in the cbd now

    how was the yakult ice blended? it is very tempting

    we tried the thai ice coffee and it was great!!! tasted like the coffee i have in ipoh old town (malaysia)

     
  • At 11/28/2007 5:34 pm, Anonymous simon Leong said…

    great timing. i tried for the first time the chat thai in randwick on carrington road. was quite happy with the pad thai chicken. they really present their dishes well too. would go back again to try some other things.

    simon :-)

     
  • At 11/28/2007 8:30 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Happy Birthday Helen...hope it was lovely:)

    Those drinks look wonderful...will add this to my ever increasing list of places I MUST try:)


    (PS: Not for the blog...Have you tried the Burmese place at Strathfield, Bagan? Or the Vietnamese at Rockdale, Thanh Viet?..Both are great)

     
  • At 11/29/2007 8:31 am, Blogger tytty said…

    haha, pandan noodles, is that what they call it here?

    eventhough "cendol" is itself a dessert, we usually just call the pandan worms cendol as well

    happy birthday!

     
  • At 11/30/2007 11:04 pm, Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said…

    Hi Anon - It did make me laugh at loud too at the unfortunate (but inaccurate) coincedence! The drinks were delightful. I love a good non-alcoholic drinks list!

    Hi Rachel - Ahh that's the joy of visiting a Thai restaurant with a Thai local :)

    There was quite a lot of eating. Will try to upload as fast as I can.

    Hi Lyn - Thank you. The yakult ice was ok, but not particularly strong in flavour. And funny, I have a few friends from Ipoh :)

    Hi Simon - I didn't realise they were in TGV in the city too. I'll have to try their takeaway one day for lunch :)

    Hi Anon - Thanks for the b'day wishes. It was a lovely week of feasting :)

    I blogged about Bagan last year, but I haven't yet eaten at Thanh Viet. Thanks for the tip!

    Hi tytty - lol. I call them green worms too :) And I love cendol!

     
  • At 12/03/2007 4:22 am, Blogger MamaBoK said…

    Happy belated birthday..??? where i am right now.. in Canada.. this town does not have anything except chinese and canadian food. Even our chinese restaurant .. are mostly focus on Canadian chinese food. Sad eh..???

     
  • At 12/05/2007 11:07 pm, Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said…

    Hi MamaBoK - Thanks, and yes small towns must have less variety to choose from but think of all that lovely clean air you have :)

     
  • At 4/05/2008 11:18 pm, Blogger Anna said…

    i'm so glad you went! it's my absolute favourite thai.
    next time try the bamboo salad - it's spicy but amazing.
    i also really like their chilli fried snapper.
    the haymarket version is much more traditional (ir suited to thai spice levels) whereas their manly and randwick restaurant is (slightly) less spicy - at least that's what the owner told me.

     
  • At 4/08/2008 9:22 pm, Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said…

    Hi Anna - I've yet to try their takeaway version at Galeries Victoria either. I'm a big fan of chilli fried snapper and bamboo salad. Will definitely have to try them next time I'm there.

     
  • At 4/15/2008 5:45 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Its definitely a hit with the thai community and thats always the sign.
    Most thai restaurants are poor excuses for real thai food,too much sugar and msg.
    My lady is Thai and says its the best by far in the chinatown area.

     
  • At 4/20/2008 9:18 pm, Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said…

    Hi Anon - I agree, a lot of Thai restaurants seem to oversweeten many of their dishes. And local endorsement is always the best endorsement in my books, as well.

     

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