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Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Tawandang, Sydney

Ka Moo Tod deep fried pork knuckle at Tawandang Thai-German restaurant, Sydney

A hunk of deep fried pork knuckle isn't the first thing you'd expect to find at a Thai restaurant, but it's the undoubted highlight at Tawandang. But hang on... pork, crackling, mashed potato and sauerkraut? It all makes sense when you find out that Tawandang started as Thailand's first Thai-German microbrewery, an east-meets-west concept that has expanded to include two branches in Bangkok (one of them seats 2,000 people!), one in Singapore and now one in Sydney.

Tasty Healthy Spicy backdrop in the dining room at Tawandang Thai-German restaurant, Sydney
Tasty Healthy Spicy backdrop in the Tawandang dining room

The Sydney offshoot is a much smaller venue than its overseas brothers, nestled in the hubbub of George Street a few doors down from Two Sticks. The windows open right out onto the street giving a much welcomed sense of light and space.

Ka Moo Tod deep fried pork knuckle at Tawandang Thai-German restaurant, Sydney
Ka Moo Tod $22.90
Deep fried pork knuckle with spicy sauce and mashed potato

Admittedly the Ka Moo Tod or deep fried pork knuckle is the only German dish on the menu, but it weaves itself into your meal seamlessly, the tender pork best doused with lashings of Thai chill dressing served on the side. The pork crackling is no end of joy, the blistered sheath deep-fried to a heart-stopping crunch.

Mashed potato at Tawandang Thai-German restaurant, Sydney
Mashed potato

And then there are the matching scoops of mashed potato - smooth and creamy - and sauerkraut, ribbons of salted cabbage that provide palate-cleansing relief. A little hat of red chilli pulls your tastebuds back to Thai.

Yum Tua Pu winged bean salad at Tawandang Thai-German restaurant, Sydney
Yum Tua Pu $14.50
Winged bean in spicy coconut sauce salad

The rest of the menu runs the complete gamut of Thai classics, from fish cakes to crying tiger grilled beef to pad thai. And then there are lesser-seen dishes like the Yum Tua Pu winged bean salad that seems to leap out at us from the page. It's all kinds of deliciousness, the winged beans (also known as four-angle beans) sliced thinly so they look more like Ninja stars, tossed through with fat juicy prawns, a tonne of garlic and a fiery dressing that effortlessly balances hot, sour, salty and sweet.

Yum Ma Muang crispy morning glory salad at Tawandang Thai-German restaurant, Sydney
Yum Ma Muang $13.50
Deep fried morning glory salad served with spicy sauce

Is there a better salad than one that's deep-fried? The deep fried morning glory isn't just tasty, it's a veritable masterpiece, with each battered vegetable sprig distinctly separate from another. There's no greasy gush of oil either. And the accompanying bowl of squid curls with red onion and coriander in chilli sauce makes for a brilliant counter to the deep fried decadence.

Miang Goong steamed prawn with rice noodle and vegetables at Tawandang Thai-German restaurant, Sydney
Miang Goong $12.50
Steamed prawn, mixed vegetable and thin rice noodle served with spicy sauce

I returned a couple of days later for lunch to try more things from their menu. The miang goong is normally only available at dinner but after a brief check with the kitchen, they happily oblige our request. It's an elegant offering of steamed prawn resting on a spoon with salad leaves, coriander and a bundle of vermicelli noodles.

Guay Teow Yen Ta Four rice noodle soup with fish ball in red bean sauce at Tawandang Thai-German restaurant, Sydney
Guay Teow Yen Ta Four $11.50 (lunch menu)
Rice noodle with fish ball, squid, fried tofu in red bean sauce

The lunch menu yields smaller dishes and lower prices but are still big enough to share. The Guay Teow Yen Ta Four is a Thai version of the Hakka Chinese yong tau fu dish. Its basic elements are the same: noodles, fish balls and tofu in a soup made from red fermented bean curd.

There's plenty of treasure to be found. The deep-fried tofu puffs soak up the hot and sour soup like a sponge, and the fish balls are soft and springy, but it's the cubes of pigs blood I revel in most.

Pad Kra Prao Gai minched chicken with basil and chilli at Tawandang Thai-German restaurant, Sydney
Pad Kra Prao Gai $13.50
Hot basil and chilli with minced chicken

The Pad Kra Prao Gai is a tempting little number too, a mountain of finely minced chicken stir-fried with basil, garlic, fish sauce, sugar and a decent whack of chilli. Have it with a side of sticky rice and you'll find yourself polishing off the entire plate in no time.

And it ain't a microbrewery unless there's beer. You can order beer by the glass or gather your mates and order a tap beer tower. The tower (which comes in two litre or three litre skyscrapers) is delivered right to your table so you can play bartender for as long as the amber liquid lasts.

They haven't forgotten non-drinkers either. There's Thai milk tea, Thai black coffee, Thai iced tea and Thai lemon iced tea. If one glass isn't enough, you can choose the all-you-drink option and pay $4.50 for as bottomless refills. Dentist bills not included.

Tub Tim Krob red ruby water chestnut in syrup and coconut at Tawandang Thai-German restaurant, Sydney
Tub Tim Krob $5.50
Water chestnut in syrup and coconut milk

And then there's the dessert menu. Choose from bananas, pumpkin, taro sweet noodles or rice flour dumplings drenched in coconut milk or coconut cream. We went with the Tub Tim Krob red rubies, little pieces of crunchy water chestnut encased in a slippery tapioca starch jelly served with shaved ice and coconut milk.

Non-coconut lovers don't miss out. Green mango with sweet shrimp sauce might be an acquired taste but sticky rice with mango should find plenty of fans.

Tawandang Thai-German restaurant, Sydney

Tawandang on Urbanspoon

Tawandang [facebook page]
706 George Street, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9211 0138

Opening hours:
Sunday to Wednesday 11am - 12 midnight
Thursday to Saturday 11am - 1am

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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 8/06/2014 10:19:00 pm


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