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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Home Thai Restaurant, Sydney

"Honestly I'd just love to go somewhere with something like papaya salad...  and then put all energy into dessert, dessert, dessert."

Sydney's bustling food scene beckoned, but Hannah - in town for just one night from Canberra - knew exactly what she wanted. And I liked her way of thinking.

We head to Home on Sussex Street. Arriving at 5.45pm means we are able to waltz right in, but within twenty minutes the restaurant is full, and a queue has quickly formed outside.

Longan juice $3

It's hard to ignore the similarities between Home and Chat Thai. Everyone thinks they must be related, with the strikingly similar lemon yellow logo, open kitchen out the front, and deep fryer of pah tung goh donuts on the go. And then everytime I sent an email about Home, I kept typing House by accident, another Thai restaurant specialising in street food run by the crew who own Spice I Am.

We perch ourselves on heavy square wooden stools and a waitress is upon us before we've even had a chance to glance at the menu. She whips out an iPad from her custom issue Louis Vuitton shoulder bag and taps out our order with a well-manicured finger.

Som tum green papaya salad $8.90

The last time I'd met Hannah was over a Vietnamese meal at My's Restaurant in Canberra. We'd ordered a prawn and pork paw paw salad, lighter and sweeter in flavour than the Thai version of this dish, which only led me to crave the dark fishiness of som tum even more.

Two giant mortar and pestles are used at Home, and they are used constantly to freshly pound the ingredients together for papaya salad. Crunchy strips of papaya arrive tangled together with green beans, roasted peanuts and a smashed up mess of cherry tomatoes, garlic, dried shrimps and chilli.

There's a welcome rush of stinging garlic, fiery chilli and freshly squeezed lime juice, all sweetened with palm sugar. There's only a little bit of raw cabbage on the side, but we've ordered two servings of sticky rice on the side - perfect for calming our chilli-ravaged tongues.

Yum Hua Plee banana flower salad $14.90

We'd only meant to order one savoury dish, but we're easily sidetracked and request the banana flower salad as well. The peeled prawns on top are a little bland, but there's plenty of life in the shredded banana flowers beneath, mixed with grated coconut, cashew nuts, fried shallot and chilli jam.

Pad Pik Khing stir fried crispy pork belly $13.90

And okay, yes, we ordered crispy pork belly too. The nuggets of fat-ribboned crackling pork are smothered in a thick curry sweet paste that is lively with lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime. The crackling has plenty of crunch but it's hot, providing a deliciously mouth-tingling rush of adrenalin.

Papaya salad, crispy pork belly, sticky rice and banana leaf salad

Red rubies water chestnuts in coconut milk $5

Suze, on the other hand, struggles with the chilli, and seeks cool relief in the drink/dessert of water chestnuts in coconut milk. Red rubies are one of my favourite desserts, chunks of water chestnut soaked in red dye, dusted with tapioca flour and then boiled to create a red-tinted dumpling skin.

It's the contrast between the chewy gelatinous skin and the crunchy chestnut inside that makes this such a textural marvel. The coconut milk is icy cold and shreds of jackfruit and palm seeds add sweetness.

Fried green sticky rice with banana $5

For dessert we move onto fried green sticky rice with banana, arriving as luminous green logs coated in a thin shell of batter. They look not unlike plutonium fuel rods, and cutting into them is a little tricky with the provided spoons. The banana is sweet and firm, but the rice is a little on the hard side of chewy.


"They look like goldfish," Suze shrieks, when our steamed rice dumplings arrive.

Pak Mhor steamed rice dumplings with peanuts $5

The skins for these dumplings are steamed fresh on muslin cloths stretched tight over simmering metal pots in the window. Smooth and slippery, the elongated ends of these dumplings do make these look like goldfish but it's the filling inside that surprises us most.

We expect peanut and coconut but find a mouthful of savoury filling instead. It's explosive with garlic, and we keep scooping up golden shards expecting to taste coconut or peanut but encountering a mouthful of deep-fried garlic instead. These would make perfect sense as an entree but as a dessert it is all too much confusion for our senses to handle.

Chefs in the kitchen

We pause by the kitchen on our way out, first mesmerised inside the restaurant, and then again from the windows outside. There's steam, smoke and the occasional burst of flames from the giant wok burners. The space is tiny and yet everyone moves effortlessly around the open kitchen like it's the size of a football field.

Wok station

Steaming dumplings

Dessert station

The open kitchen

Chefs Gallery

Making noodles at Chefs Gallery

We head up to the road to our next dessert stop, loitering outside the windows of Chefs Gallery for a look at the noodle making. Sightseeing in Sydney is all about the food, I say, and the live window theatre of cooking is the best show you could ask for.

Stretching noodle dough

Azuma Cafe

We continue on to Azuma Cafe for frozen yoghurt and chiffon cake. Just as we step into the shop, we run into dessert-hunting food bloggers with the same idea.

Green tea chiffon

Azuma Cafe is now a haven of chiffon cakes, with different flavours lining the top two shelves. Along the bottom shelves are individual desserts, available for eat-in or takeaway.

Chocolate gateau

Strawberry layer cake

White peach mousse and white wine jelly

But we only have eyes for the chiffon.

Vanilla soft-serve yoghurt with [clockwise from bottom left]: chiffon in cinnamon, black sesame, Earl Grey tea and cheese

The chiffon cakes are wonderfully light and fluffy, and seem larger than they appear, with each mouthful. Cinnamon is the strongest flavour by far, with black sesame probably the mildest. The Earl Grey tea chiffon is pleasantly fragranced with bergamot and the cheese cake isn't noticeable in flavour (perhaps just a faint aftertaste of cream cheese) but markedly different in texture, with a density more similar to a Hokkaido cheesecake.

Vanilla soft serve yoghurt is quite sweet and handily acts as a light version of cream to our forkfuls of cake.

Meet Fresh

Our final stop is at Meet Fresh. The queue is out the door at 9pm and there's a sense of chaos inside the shop with people waiting on desserts swelling into the line of customers yet to order.

Signature herbal dessert $5

We get ours takeaway, a signature herbal dessert that Hannah loves instantly. Chewy balls of sweet potato and taro dough are a squidgy complement to the coolness of herbal jelly. At the bottom is a bed of shaved ice drowned in sugar syrup.

Ahhh Sydney - you always satisfy.

View Larger Map
Home Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon
Azuma Patisserie on Urbanspoon
Meet Fresh on Urbanspoon

Home Thai Restaurant
Shop 1-2, 299 Sussex Street, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9261 5058
Opening hours:
Open 7 days 11am-10.30pm

Azuma Cafe
Ground Floor Regent Place Shopping
501 Greorge Street Sydney
Opening hours: 
Open Monday to Saturday 12pm-10pm, Sunday 1pm-8pm

Meet Fresh Taiwanese Dessert
13 Goulburn Street
(corner of Dixon Street, next to Mamak)
Haymarket Chinatown, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 8339 1031
Opening hours:
Open 7 days 11am til late

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Chat Thai, Haymarket
Chefs Gallery, Sydney
Meet Fresh, Haymarket
29 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 4/13/2011 01:33:00 am


  • At 4/13/2011 1:57 am, Blogger Phuoc'n Delicious said…

    What a feast you guys did! Had to chuckle at Suze's comment "Goldfish" lol

    It was nice bumping into you guys!

  • At 4/13/2011 2:02 am, Anonymous Dumpling Girl said…

    The chocolate gateau looks delicious. However, I could do with some of that pork belly :)

  • At 4/13/2011 4:53 am, Blogger joey@forkingaroundsydney said…

    What a huge post! All that food and all within a block or two of each other; that's why I love Sydney!

    Love how each fingernail on the hand holding the spoon has a different colour, brighter than the Red Rubies dessert itself! LOL

  • At 4/13/2011 7:19 am, Anonymous john@heneedsfood said…

    An epic post indeed. How could it not, with so much deliciousness to cover. Looks like the red rubies don't play as much of peek-a-boo at Home as they do at House. So much food! The pak mhor look divine!

  • At 4/13/2011 8:54 am, Anonymous Tina@foodboozeshoes said…

    Yay for the convincing nature of crispy pork belly!

    Mmm, and chiffon cake sounds like the perfect light dessert

  • At 4/13/2011 9:04 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It wouldn't have been a complete foodie adventure without the pork belly, would it? :) LOL on the goldfish photo. The fried green sticky rice with banana is in my "to try" list!

  • At 4/13/2011 9:40 am, Anonymous betty said…

    i have walked past home thai - and it did remind me of chat thai too, are they related??

    love the dessert run!

  • At 4/13/2011 9:51 am, Anonymous Zina @ tastedbytwo said…

    I thought Home was a Chat Thai offshoot as well, the lines certainly look familiar!

  • At 4/13/2011 10:07 am, Anonymous Hannah said…

    I'm so glad I listened to the voice in my head that told me, last night not to do my Sydney review! My photos would have been horrifically embarrassing next to yours. (I don't think I can last until the end of May to get a new one. Now that you've pointed out my camera's deathness, it seems even blurrier.) Although anyone who goes to my blog from yours today is going to be surprised by a distinctly non-foodie post :P

    I love how extra beautiful you've made everything look, and your descriptions of the food make me almost taste it all again. The delicious, delicious tastes...

    Absolutely cannot wait to do this again soon, my dear friend, and with super more extra fun tummy-stretchy desserts indeed! Thank you for the wonderful, wonderful night :) xo

  • At 4/13/2011 10:33 am, Blogger muppy said…

    Ooooooh i love those green rolls!!

  • At 4/13/2011 11:22 am, Blogger Mel said…

    Did you serioulsy eat all of this in one night? I am in awe of your dessert stomach (hear that my tummy - pick up your game)! I want to go to all of these places...esp Home and Meet Fresh (maybe not in one night though).

  • At 4/13/2011 11:39 am, Anonymous idontcryieat said…

    What a great post! and love your photos! I love meetfresh- it's the best thing to have after a spicy thai dinner.

  • At 4/13/2011 11:49 am, Anonymous Nic@diningwithastud said…

    The pork belly looks amazing! I love that you went to another place for each course haha.

  • At 4/13/2011 12:36 pm, Blogger susan said…

    What an amazing feast! I love coming to Sydney and going to those thai type restaurants. I don't think I could have eaten all those desserts though!

  • At 4/13/2011 2:01 pm, Blogger Apple said…

    Oh it all looks so delicious! Especially the white wine jelly and strangley enough, the green sticky rice and banana!

  • At 4/13/2011 2:03 pm, Blogger sugarpuffi said…

    HOLY CRAP! its like dessert dessert dessert from 530 to 930. u guys are truely crazy.

    i feel so ashamed to say that ive never been to home thai even thought its just down the street from where i am :( gotta make a stop there asap!

  • At 4/13/2011 9:33 pm, Anonymous C & MSP said…

    We went to Home a few weeks ago. I wasn't keen on Thai that night but my wife insisted we try. I was hoping for her sake the food is good after waiting for almost an hour and it turned out to be one great memorable meal!

  • At 4/13/2011 11:02 pm, Anonymous FoodieChat said…

    I agree the dumplings at Home Thai were a bit weird to end with! But it's still one of my favourite cheap eats that place! Cool that you did a full on Asian dessert crawl! How did you find the fresh chiffon cake compared to the packaged stuff at asian food shops? Also, do you know where I can buy a chiffon cake tin?? And did you try the "jerry"? ;)

  • At 4/14/2011 5:17 pm, Anonymous Chanel said…

    I love a good payaya salad - Home Thai's looks delicious!

    Dessert-hopping sounds like something I really need to do :D

  • At 4/14/2011 7:29 pm, Blogger Angie Lives to Eat (and Cook)! said…

    Epic Feast! I keep hearing about Home and House and do get a little confused (havn't been to either yet though). I do see the goldfish resemblence in those dumplings from Home, I would definately be confused to finishing off dessert with a savoury dish before heading off for more dessert.

  • At 4/14/2011 10:08 pm, Anonymous Shaun @ everybody loves ramen said…

    I want whatever theyre frying in the first pic!!

  • At 4/14/2011 11:15 pm, Blogger missklicious said…

    I loved the Earl Grey chiffon cake from the Azuma Patisserie. Haven't got around to trying the other flavours yet!

  • At 4/16/2011 12:39 am, Anonymous Lisa said…

    Mmmmm, strawberry layer cake. Everything looks delicious.

  • At 4/17/2011 11:56 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Thanks everyone for your comments!

    Hi Phuoc
    - It was great timing. And hurrah for more chiffon cake sampling!

    Hi Joey - lol. Well-spotted. Nail art by Suze.

    Hi Betty - They're not related, but they seem to fool a lot of people!

    Hi Hannah - Always a fun night with you! We must do it again, and soon!

    Hi chocolatesuze - You always remind me!

    Hi MissPiggy - I'm afraid we did. lol.

    Hi Foodiechat - You should be able to pick up a chiffon cake tin at baking specialty stores. I found mine at an op shop for only $2!

    Hi Shaun - That's the pah tong goh deep-fried bread sticks. I always get them at Chat Thai but we skipped them tonight given the dessert crawl ahead!

  • At 4/18/2011 8:48 pm, Anonymous sara (Belly Rumbles) said…

    What a food crawl! The fried bananas look sensational. The "goldfish" dumplings would of been a bit of a shock to the taste buds.

  • At 4/19/2011 2:24 am, Anonymous Penny said…

    Love that banana flower salad - it looks delicious! Hope to get to Australia again one of these days soon.


  • At 4/20/2011 5:11 pm, Anonymous Food Kingdom said…

    We are Proud to announce that we are now hosting one of the most popular Vietnamese restaurant in London.

  • At 4/22/2011 6:27 pm, Blogger Cathy x. said…

    i can't believe i haven't been to ANY of these places :'(

  • At 5/02/2011 4:12 pm, Blogger YW said…

    haha.. we had the same problem when we had the steamed rice dumplings with peanuts. Expected something sweet but ended up with something savoury. We actually jokingly said to the waitress it should be an entree not a dessert.


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