The open kitchen at the front of Chat Thai is always a hive of activity.
At least it means that the inevitable wait for a table at this busy restaurant is always entertaining. The narrow galley kitchen fits more chefs than you could think possible, industriously making desserts, checking on bubbling pots and searing skewers of chicken and pork on the grill.
After a dinner of make-your-own tofu, monjayaki pancakes and noodles on waterslides at Kasumi Izakaya, we end up at Chat Thai for dessert. The wait is about twenty minutes but this only gives me more time to gawk at the food on display, no matter how torturous the temptation.
Skewers of fish balls in batter
Satay chicken skewers
Sweet coconut milk soup
Steamed coconut milk and pandan layered desserts
Thai red tea $3.50
We finally secure a table and settle down to icy glasses of Thai red tea, a vivid orange colour with an intense caramel sweetness.
Sticky rice with durian
For dessert comfort food, it's hard to go past sticky rice, cooked with coconut milk until plump and yielding. The sticky rice with durian has us in raptures, the thick chunks of durian adding a rich and floral butteriness to the dish.
Sticky rice with mango
The non-durians fans stick to sticky rice with mango, the new-season mangoes still a little on the tart side, but sure to become sweeter and more fragrant as mango season hits Sydney.
The icy refreshment of tao tung is very similar to the Vietnamese dessert of sam bo luong. A fat-free dessert soup, a clear sugar syrup is doused over a mixture of pearl barley, kidney beans, lotus seeds, longans, red dates and more. The cold syrup is made even colder with the addition of ice. It's a dessert that kids have little patience for, but the older you get, the more you start to appreciate this herbal concoction that seems to revitalise the soul.
Slicing the dough
Our final dessert is one I'd been staring at, mouth agape, whilst we waited for our table. Par tuhng go is a Thai take on the Chinese you tiao or yau jar gwai, the deep-fried bread sticks that more often accompany cavernous bowls of rice congee. In Thai cuisine, these bread sticks are made miniature-sized and then served as a dessert alongside a saucer of pandan custard.
Par tuhng go forms part of the late night supper menu at Chat Thai and is only available after 9.30pm. Its entire glorious production can be viewed in the front window, a sight that is both mesmerising and painfully hunger-inducing.
Placing two strips of dough together to form the breadstick pair
Adding the dough to the wok of hot oil
The dough puffs immediately
Dough deep-fried to a golden crisp
Removing the fried breadsticks
Par tuhng go with sangkaya pandan custard $6.90
The par tuhng go are still hot from the fryer, their crunchy golden exterior contrasting against the soft fluffiness within. We dip them generously into the saucer of sangkaya, an eggy custard made with coconut milk and fresh pandan.
I could have eaten a plate of these on my own. Next time.
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20 Campbell Street, Haymarket Chinatown, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9211 1808
Open seven days
Chat Thai, Haymarket (Nov10) and (Nov07)
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
The front page of the Times Online Food & Drink section, 23/09/09
Remember how Grab Your Fork was included in the Times Online list of 50 of the World's Best Food Blogs? Times journalist Nick Wyke has followed up this list with a series of interviews, an interesting insight into what drives and inspires food bloggers from all over the world.
My interview has just been published here: Meet the Food Bloggers: Grab Your Fork.
Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Grab Your Fork included in UK Times' 50 of the World's Best Food Blogs
Grab Your Fork included in UK Times' Top 10 Food Blogs From Around The World
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9/24/2009 02:17:00 a.m.