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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Chat Thai, Sydney (and an interview on the Times Online)

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.

Tao Tung

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.

View Larger Map
Chat Thai on Urbanspoon

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

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

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 (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
21 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 9/24/2009 02:17:00 am


  • At 9/24/2009 6:37 am, Anonymous Dan said…

    Hi! When was this? We went by hoping for the mango sticky rice last week, but were told that the mangos weren't ready yet - only durian. Have they made the jump into season?

  • At 9/24/2009 8:41 am, Blogger Stephcookie said…

    Woah freaky that we did the same post about Chat Thai! How fantastic is the par tuhng go though?? I ate a whole bowl of sangkaya on my own. Great interview in the Times Online, congrats!

  • At 9/24/2009 8:52 am, Anonymous shez said…

    Supper at Chat Thai? Sounds fantastic! (And hopefully the queues are a little shorter once you hit the post-9:30pm timeslot). And muchos congratulations on the interview. Love the ninja picture ;)

  • At 9/24/2009 9:17 am, Anonymous Grace said…

    asian desserts rock :D I rate this blog post 10/10 lol!

  • At 9/24/2009 9:26 am, Anonymous Minh said…

    Great work with the interview Helen, a fantastic read as always! Mmm the desserts at Chat Thai always impress me, the queues have been keeping me away but I think I'll have to head back soon!

  • At 9/24/2009 10:03 am, Blogger Anna (Morsels and Musings) said…

    CONGRATS, another star performance from sydney's most notable food blogger!

    my fav chat thai desserts are (forgive my terrible spelling of the names!):
    kanom kluk - warm, gooey, salty-sweet coconut cakes cooked in a griddle with chunks of sweet corn inside.
    thab thim krab - crunchy water chestnuts coated in ruby tapioca flour and served with sweet, iced coconut milk.

  • At 9/24/2009 10:19 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Congrats!! I am so oing to make the mango and sticking rice soon. Waiting for the prices of mangoes to go down.

  • At 9/24/2009 10:51 am, Anonymous billy@ATFT said…

    Great interview and you got such beautiful teeth! :)

    I still havent been back to Chat Thai for a long time... those yao tiu with custard sounds good.

  • At 9/24/2009 11:11 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    my favourite way to eat the bah tong goh is still with the thai-style congee (which is slightly different to the chinese version). hmmm this post makes me homesick.

  • At 9/24/2009 1:09 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    Great stuff Helen!
    PS could you please return to the old login page! This one gives me no end of trouble...

  • At 9/24/2009 4:50 pm, Blogger missklicious said…

    How good does the pandan custard look?! YUM It's making me so hungry!

  • At 9/24/2009 10:25 pm, Anonymous Arwen from Hoglet K said…

    I love your photos of the breadstick production. Congratulations on the interview too!

  • At 9/25/2009 12:44 am, Anonymous Reality Raver said…

    Woo Hoo - that is so great that interview and on the Times no less. Very impressive. Well done and well deserved.

  • At 9/25/2009 1:56 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Dan - We ate here last Saturday 19/9 so sounds like you missed the mangoes by a few days!

    Hi Stephcookie - Freaky indeed, although I really could go another round or two of those amazing par tuhng go! And thank you :)

    Hi Shez - So many good places for supper in Sydney these days, and ha, I think I'm overdue for a new ninja photo :)

    Hi Grace - lol. Asian desserts are great. Especially the deep-fried kind :)

    Hi Minh - Thank you :) The queues tend to be a bit manic but oh such worthwhile entertainment whilst you wait!

    Hi Anna - Oh thank you, you're far too kind :) I adore thab thim krab - thanks for the reminder. They are amazing aren't they?

    Hi Ellie - Thank you and oh, I'm so jealous of your lucky family feasting on your spoils. I can't wait for mango season either.

    Hi Billy - lol. Stop it! The yao tiu are amazing - we should schedule a pit-stop soon!

    Hi Spatulaspoonandsaturday - Bread sticks and congee are a match made in heaven. It's funny how food often reminds us of home.

    Hi Jackie - I've heard mixed reports on the comment page but for the most part it seems to work better for people? I'll let it set for a little while longer and hopefully Blogger will sort out any commenting issues? Thank you so much for your persistence though!

    Hi Missklicious - The pandan custard was great. I know because I ate a lot of it! lol

    Hi Arwen - Thank you :) And the breadstick production was truly mesmerising. I love how flour and water can turn into something so magical and delicious!

    Hi Reality Raver - Thanks. It's great to see the Times making the effort to profile so many food bloggers from around the world :)

  • At 9/25/2009 2:16 pm, Anonymous Adrian @ Food Rehab said…

    Yes, this place rocks. This was my fav eatery during my Sydney Tastebud Travels having revisted two days in a row! I couldnt get enough of their sweet red iced tea with condense milk. Also, their fishballs were too good.

    Check it out: http://foodrehab.com.au/2009/03/25/chat-thai/

    Good work on the interview!

    Keep eating.

  • At 9/26/2009 10:15 pm, Blogger Yas @ hungry.digital.elf. said…

    I had just eaten here the other day!
    Par tuhng go, man, I didn't order it! Next time!

    Hooray for your appearance! Great to see your hard works being recognised internationally! :)

  • At 9/28/2009 1:04 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Adrian - Thanks :) Chat Thai is great - you know you're on a winner when you return so quickly. ps. Love your blog name :)

    Hi Yas - Oh definitely do the par tuhng go - it's only available late at night, but ha, I don't see that as being a problem for you!

    Thank you - it's always great to see media embracing the food blogging community. Yay for Times Online :)

  • At 9/28/2009 12:55 pm, Anonymous Alan said…

    If you like Par tuhng go you MUST visit them at lunch for the kai nok ka ta - deep fried yam balls!

    Have you tried the bua loy kai wahn yet? It's the dish with the coconut soup that you snapped them making. It comes with a poached (sometimes still runny) egg.

    Chat Thai is my poison: I only have 3 more dishes to try on their entire menu! *swoons*

  • At 10/05/2009 6:54 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Alan - Mmm deep-fried yam balls sound yum. Haven't tried the bua loy kai wahn but I remember being intrigued by the poached eggs in the container on the counter. One to order next time for sure.

    Wow you are a Chat Thai regular indeed. I admit the queues do mean you have to be organised or patient to eat there, otherwise I would be eating there much more regularly!

  • At 10/09/2009 1:11 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Awesome restaurant, just had to visit after reading this post and it certainly didn't disappoint!!

    I had the deep fried dough! It was great and I've decided that I'm going to try every dessert on the menu! Definitely looking forward to many future revisits! I also went to Rise in Darlinghurst after reading this blog, and that was a great experience too! I only discovered this grab your fork a month ago, and I think since then I've read ALL the posts. Talk about OD'ing on food porn! Amazing!

  • At 11/13/2009 5:50 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Anon - Glad you enjoyed the post :) The dessert menu is great isn't it? I can't believe you've read every post! Hope you continue to read (and comment!) in the future :)


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