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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Khao Pla, Chatswood

Thai tea ice cream at Khao Pla, Chatswood

As if Thai iced tea wasn't tasty enough, Khao Pla go ahead and turn it into ice cream. It's an even more intense hit of strong tea laced with condensed milk, a distillation that seems to reflect the overall philosophy at Khao Pla. The food here is bold and unapologetic with flavour in a take-no-prisoners fashion.

Diners inside Khao Pla, Chatswood

From its first day of opening in August 2013, Khao Pla has been buzzing with locals. The dining room might tick all the boxes for the hip new Asian restaurant -- wooden benches, metal stools, industrial light fittings and striking artwork on the walls -- but it's all underpinned by some impressive credentials here too. Head chef Pla Rojratanavichai spent five years manning the woks at Spice I Am before racking up stints at Mr Wong and Ms G's.

The menu includes 40-something dishes, enough depth to give you plenty of choices for at least a couple of visits. On your maiden visit, it's a battle trying to work out what to prioritise first.

Isaan steak tartare at Khao Pla, Chatswood
Isaan steak tartare $13

Isaan steak tartare is a good place to start. Prepared in a northeastern Thai style, the hand chopped beef is cool and slippery, jumbled up with chilli flakes, lime juice and herbs. Ground roasted rice and deep fried shallots give an element of crunch. It's one of my favourite dishes of the night.

Hor mok yang grilled fish curry in banana leaf at Khao Pla, Chatswood
Hor mok yang $7 each
Grilled fish curry wrapped in banana leaf

In the "small bite" section you'll find hor mok yang, banana leaf parcels that hold golden pillows of grilled fish curry. Sink your fork through this red curry mousse and you'll find a vibrancy of heat and spices tempered with coconut milk and kaffir lime. It's like a controlled flavour bomb.  Your tastebuds will relish it for hours later.

Char grilled pork neck at Khao Pla, Chatswood
Nam tok moo grilled pork neck $13
with ground roasted rice, chilli flake and lime juice

There's a whole heap of proteins in the grilled and fried section: soft shell crab, calamari, prawns, wagyu and tofu. We narrow in on the nam tok moo or grilled pork neck, thick slices of char-grilled pork that are even sweeter when dipped in the hot and spicy dressing spiked with chilli flakes and lime juice.

Fried chicken wings at Khao Pla, Chatswood
Gai Tord $13
Fried curry marinated chicken wings with Thai basil

The fried curry marinated chicken wings win over plenty of new fans. The emphasis here isn't on the crunch of batter, but the addictive curry marinade that's been slathered into every crevice.

Sweet and sour pork ribs at Khao Pla, Chatswood
Pork ribs $19

You could try eating the pork ribs with chopsticks, but using your fingers is much more satisfying. The sweet and sour pork ribs are glazed with a sticky marinade of palm sugar and tamarind that's perfect for savouring with a bowl of steamed white rice. 

Gaeng Som spicy and sour fish curry at Khao Pla, Chatswood
Gaeng Som $15
Spicy and sour fish curry with squash flowers and Chinese cabbage

They'e got all your Thai classics here, like pad thai, massaman beef, green curry chicken and pad see ew but it's worth hunting out the less obvious dishes. Gaeng som is one of them, a hot and sour fish curry that includes scarlet wisteria flowers (dok khae), an elusive Thai ingredient that sends the G-Man into a homesick frenzy.

Banana blossom salad at Khao Pla, Chatswood
Banana blossom salad $17

Liven things up with a couple of salads too. The banana blossom salad is all about texture, tossing together thin slices of banana bell with strips of tender poached chicken, fragrant dried shrimp, crunchy toasted coconut and deep fried shallots. Add fresh coriander, shallots, chilli, tamarind and palm sugar and you've scored a funhouse of salty, savoury, sour, spicy and sweet.

Green mango salad at Khao Pla, Chatswood
Green mango salad $18

The green mango salad is sweeter than som tum green papaya salad, but it's a tasty treat when it's in season. It's hard to resist the freshness of sweet green mango tossed through with coriander, dried shrimp, fish sauce, palm sugar and roasted peanuts.

Coconut sorbet at Khao Pla, Chatswood
Coconut sorbet $6
with palm candy, jackfruit, roasted peanuts 

They make their own ice creams at Khao Pla, meaning desserts are mandatory here. The coconut sorbet is smooth and silky, spiked with a touch of salt that accentuates the coconut flavour.

Thai milk tea ice cream with coconut jelly and jackfruit at Khao Pla, Chatswood
Thai milk tea ice cream $6
with coconut jelly and jackfruit

Thai milk tea ice cream has the hit of strong vanilla tea mellowed with lashings of condensed milk.  It's crowned with strands of kanom foy tong, a popular Thai treat of sweetened egg yolk threads.

Thai milk coffee ice cream at Khao Pla, Chatswood
Thai milk coffee ice cream $8
with mochi and Thai wafer

And caffeine addicts will approve of the Thai milk coffee ice cream. There's a wicked bitterness to this one, alleviated by more of that glorious condensed milk. If you weren't already buzzing after dinner, you will be after this finishing this one.

Khao Pla on Urbanspoon

Khao Pla
Shop 7, 370 Victoria Avenue (entrance on Anderson Street), Chatswood, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9412 4978

Opening hours:
Daily 11am-10pm

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22 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 10/15/2014 02:32:00 am


  • At 10/15/2014 7:24 am, Anonymous john | heneedsfood said…

    Impressive. Nice to see a line-up of Thai food that isn't of the yawn-inducing variety many Australian Thai restaurants dish up. And really good pricing, as well!

  • At 10/15/2014 9:26 am, Blogger Jacq said…

    one of my favourite thai restaurants - but that isaan steak tartare was hot! love their grilled dishes, the grilled pork neck and ox tongue are so good

  • At 10/15/2014 11:32 am, Blogger Cassie | Journey From Within said…

    man, all those chargrilled dishes have me salivating! Lunch is not long to go now! :P
    but thai tea milk ice cream.... SAY WHA...!!??!?!!?!?

  • At 10/15/2014 12:13 pm, Blogger MAB vs Food said…

    I really want to visit Khao Pla and your write up is making more esger to try. Everything looks so good, I don't know what I would order; all i know is that the Isaan steak tartare will a be a must for me. And I LOVE Thai milk tea and they've turned it into an ice cream!!

  • At 10/15/2014 2:54 pm, Anonymous Gareth said…

    The pork neck and ribs look fantastic, to be honest though Helen, you had me at steak tartare and I love green mango salad.

  • At 10/15/2014 3:23 pm, Blogger Milktea Eats said…

    ive got some thai tea bags in my pantry, i know what i should be making now!

  • At 10/15/2014 5:12 pm, Anonymous ChopinandMysaucepan said…

    Dear Helen,

    The kana moo krob here kills a lot of other pretenders. Someone couldn't wait to dive into the hor mok yang.

  • At 10/15/2014 6:06 pm, Anonymous Hotly Spiced said…

    How lovely they make their own ice cream. I love the look of the food as it's not your standard Thai food but seems so much more interesting. That green mango salad with the roasted peanuts is speaking to me xx

  • At 10/15/2014 8:22 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I have heard a lot about Khao Pla! They seem to have really interesting dishes..mmm pork ribs and milk tea ice cream!

  • At 10/15/2014 9:25 pm, Blogger Winston said…

    Your photos are so captivating really feel like I'm there at the table want to face dive into everything! I love Thai milk tea anything and yes, I enjoy it when they turn it into desserts too!

  • At 10/16/2014 12:36 am, Anonymous Padaek said…

    Love the black background. The first two dishes are my choices. Thai food, especially the ones here make me salivate. Aroy!! :D

  • At 10/16/2014 1:18 am, Anonymous MrsPigflyin said…

    So happy to see this today, thanks Helen!

  • At 10/16/2014 1:14 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    Hi Helen!

    I haven't been to Khao Pla in a while but seeing as it's in my 'hood' I should definitely return soon - especially after seeing those curry marinated chicken wings!

  • At 10/16/2014 4:50 pm, Anonymous Amanda @ Gourmanda said…

    I've walked past Khao Pla a million times before in my Chatswood visits, but never been! Love the look of the milk tea ice-cream. :)

  • At 10/16/2014 10:43 pm, Anonymous Lee Tran Lam said…

    Yes please to the Thai milk coffee ice cream! Thanks for making the introductory visit to Khao Pla, it's definitely been on my "get to know better" list for a while. I think the buzz alone from all the desserts would be pretty great …

  • At 10/17/2014 1:56 pm, Anonymous Gourmet Getaways said…

    Love the pork neck dish!!! Mmmm...But what I would really like to have first is the Thai ice cream!

    Gourmet Getaways

  • At 10/18/2014 12:33 am, Anonymous Sara | Belly Rumbles said…

    Some not usual dishes and love the pice tag attached. Why is chatswood so far away, gah :(

  • At 10/18/2014 6:55 pm, Anonymous Cindy (a foodie's joy) said…

    I like the look of the fish curry in banana leaf and the chicken wings too!

  • At 10/18/2014 7:23 pm, Anonymous Martine @ Chompchomp said…

    Stunning photos as always! You are making me pine for Thailand....we loved their fine dining. Everything was so flavoursome

  • At 10/19/2014 6:32 pm, Blogger Sarah said…

    That place looks so awesome! I'm so jealous of the Thai places you have in Sydney. :)

    PS I'd have the thai milk tea and thai milk coffee ice-cream all to myself, please and thank-you. :)

  • At 10/20/2014 5:30 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    Thai milk tea icecream! Sold! Love that funky decor and the look of the banana wrapped fish curry too, double sold!

  • At 3/26/2015 9:20 am, Anonymous Elaine said…

    We ate here last night and the food was terrific! Tried the Tom Yum, Baby octopus skewers, Sashimi style scallop salad, Chicken ball skewers, green papaya salad, Fish curry in banana leaves, soft shelled crab, crispy prawns. The highlight was the pork ribs which were soooo good that a second serving was ordered. The only dish we were disappointed with was the green papaya salad which just seemed to be lacking something. Service is friendly and efficient. The only down-side is that this place is NOISY due to all the hard surfaces, making conversation a challenge. But that's ok when the food is so good!!!


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