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Monday, September 28, 2015

Chum Tang, Chatswood

Larb kua sang choy bao with pork, liver and intestine at Chung Tang, Chatswood

Let's make one thing clear. Chum Tang doesn't compromise on heat. The sister restaurant to Khao Pla - located only a few blocks away - Chum Tang is one of the hottest restaurants to take up residence in the new District at Chatswood Interchange, no pun intended. Haven't been to The District? You should. These impressive assembly of modern architecture, striking artworks and interesting food stalls heralds a new chapter in food court dining, a place where you want to go and hang out with friends, not a soulless assembly of fast food chains and sandwich bars.

Dining area at Chung Tang, Chatswood
The dining area designed to look like a railway station waiting room

The dining area at Chum Tang is surprisingly small, just a long cluster of chairs and tables along one side of the narrow kitchen. As soon as you learn that Chum Tang means "station interchange", the exposed set-up here makes total sense. The wooden benches look straight out of a train station waiting room and even the curved arches looking into the kitchen remind you of ticket booth windows.

Blackboard menu at Chung Tang, Chatswood
Chum Tang menu on a train station indicator board

The train station theme continues with old fashioned lamps out the front, and a highlights menu written on an old train station indicator board.

Menu at Chung Tang, Chatswood

This is head chef Taweenrach (Pla) Rojratanavichai's second restaurant after Khao Pla. His Bangkok upbringing and his working experience at Spice I Am, Ms Gs and Mr Wong, have resulted in a slick menu that doesn't compromise on heat or flavour.

The menu is broken up into snacks, mains and single plates, and in a nod to those with dietaries, all dishes that can be made vegan or gluten-free are clearly marked with symbols.

We're happy to concentrate solely on the snack menu, littered with herbs and chilli. There are twelve dishes in this section alone.

Yum naem sour pork and pig ears salad at Chung Tang, Chatswood
Yum naem $15
Spicy salad of sour pork, pig ears, peanuts, shallot, chilli and lime

The yum naem is the perfect place to start, a hot, sweet and sour salad of fermented pork and crunchy pigs ears that gets the tastebuds into overdrive. In amongst the porky deliciousness, we encounter roast peanuts, fresh mint and coriander and the unmistakable crunch of pork crackling.

Larb kua Northern Thai style DIY sang choy bao with pork, liver and intestine at Chung Tang, Chatswood
Larb kua $14
Northern region style DIY sang choy bao with pork, liver, intestine, roasted chilli and baby cos lettuce

The hottest dish we will encounter is the larb kua. The dark brown tones of pork mince, liver and intestine look ominous enough, but there's no real clue to the chilli factor until about five seconds after you swallow it. The hint of chilli you'd tasted at the start steadily builds to a mouth-burning ferocity. It's painfully good.

Lettuce, peanuts, pork crackling and herbs for the larb kua Northern Thai style DIY sang choy bao at Chung Tang, Chatswood
Lettuce, peanuts, pork crackling and herbs for the DIY sang choy bao

A bundle of lettuce leaves allows you to wrap this up sang choy bao style. Grab a spoonful of mince and add peanuts, herbs and pork crackling and you've got one helluva party.

Larb kua Northern Thai style DIY sang choy bao at Chung Tang, Chatswood
Pork, liver and intestine sang choy bao wrap

It's messy fun but worth it. The fresh coriander, Thai basil leaves and saw tooth coriander add extra zing. The curl of pork crackling is the prized cherry on top.

Larb tofu tord crispy tofu with larb spice salt at Chung Tang, Chatswood
Larb tofu tord $12
Crispy tofu with larb spice salt

On the other end of the scale, the larb tofu tord is probably the mildest dish of the evening. There's an impressive simplicity about this Thai take on salt and pepper tofu. The cubes of tofu are soft and quivering, its vulnerability providing an even greater contrast to the delicate crunch to its surface, scattered generously with spicy salt and tossed through with shallots, mint and coriander leaves.

Larb dib Northern style raw beef salad at Chung Tang, Chatswood
Larb dib $14
Northern style raw beef salad, tripe, Sichuan pepper, blood and roasted chilli

If beef tartare is more your style, the larb dib will easily win you over. Finely chopped raw beef is tumbled with cooked tripe, a good whack of Sichuan pepper and a little bit of blood for good measure. It's a clean-tasting dish, the beef tender and well-seasoned against the tongue-tingling sensation of chilli and Sichuan pepper.

Peanuts, crackling and cucumber accompanying the larb dib raw beef salad at Chung Tang, Chatswood
Peanuts, crackling and cucumber accompanying the larb dib raw beef salad

Is it a coincidence we manage to order three dishes with pork crackling? All I know is that we couldn't be happier. They make a terrific vessel for any salad, irony aside.

Yum pak boong crispy morning glory at Chung Tang, Chatswood
Yum pak boong $12
Crispy morning glory, tamarind, roasted chilli, dried shrimp and palm sugar

Our veggie quotient is morning glory, deep-fried into the most glorious looking pillow. Admittedly this one is a little heavy going, the morning glory - which tastes not dissimilar to kale chips - smothered in a thick shrimp and tamarind sauce.

Larb wings Isaan flavoured fried chicken wings at Chung Tang, Chatswood
Larb wings $13
Isaan flavour fried chicken wings

And you knew there'd be fried chicken. The Isaan flavour wings are flavour bombs of crunch, so hot from the fryer you play a frenzied game of hot potato because you just can't wait for them to cool down.

Hot foot it down to Chum Tang for seriously tasty snackage. Chilli wimps can rest assured there are less fiery items on the menu, but I reckon furiously fanning your tongue as your eyes water is kinda half the fun.

Chung Tang at the Chatswood Interchange

Chum Tang Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chum Tang
Shop P4, The District, Podium Level,
Chatswood Interchange
436 Victoria Avenue, Chatswood, Sydney
(take the e
Tel: +61 (02) 9419 2872

Open daily 11am-10pm

BYO wine corkage $3 per person 

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Chatswood - Khao Pla
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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 9/28/2015 01:56:00 am


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