Dylan and I both love Thai and although we’ve been to a lot of Sydney’s Thai restaurants, for some reason we had never ventured down to Chat Thai. So when old work colleagues suggested Chat Thai to catch up over a feed and a few Singh beers I was thrilled. Having heard good things about the place for a very long time I was keen to see how it stacked up against our old favourites.
Fresh Spring Rolls. Filled with smoked fish sausages, shredded poached chicken, cucumbers and shallots wrapped in fresh rice paper. Dressed with a sweet tamarind sauce ($10.00).
I thoroughly enjoyed the spring rolls with the thin layer of fresh rice paper encasing the slightly smokey fish sausages, shreds of poached chicken finding their way into every mouthful and the cucumbers adding a lovely bite to the roll. The tamarind sauce was sticky and sweet and I felt the perfect accompaniment with the fresh flavours of the rolls.
Tort Mun Pla. Little dollops of redfish mousse fried and served with a salsa of pickled cucumber, red onions, sweet chilli and sprinkled with ground peanuts and coriander. The mousse is a blend of redfish, red curry paste, kaffir lime leaves and sliced green beans ($9.00).
I love Thai fish cakes, but I have never had such small ones before and was half expecting them to be dry and overcooked. Contrary to my expectations, the little morsels of fish cake were juicy, piping hot and had an awesome kick of chilli that you often miss out on in Sydney’s Thai eateries. The salad was reminiscent of Dylan’s take on Thai beef salad and I savoured every mouthful. The flavours of this dish had me wondering when we were returning to Thailand – it has been almost a year since our trip!
Gai Satay. Skewered and char grilled chicken fillets marinated in garlic, turmeric and coriander roots. Accompanied with peanut sauce and salsa of pickled cucumber and red onions ($2.50 each).
Chicken and satay, who can resist? Possibly viewed as a typical westerner choice I was not put off. The chicken had a lovely amount of char without being dry and the satay was nice enough but I felt it was missing something to make it stand out from any run of the mill Thai takeaway satay. If the satay had been more robust this dish would have been a real winner.
Mu Bhing. Skewered and char grilled lean pork marinated in galangal, lemongrass and garlic. Accompanied with nahm jim jaew ($2.50 each).
The pork skewers were a little lacking in flavour and quite dry, they really didn’t stack up to their chicken offsiders. The sauce was easily the best component with a nice balance between sweet, salty, sour and spicy. It’s a shame the pork was overdone, they would have gone down a treat had the meat been tender and juicy. Maybe next time we’ll get a better batch.
Massaman Curry. Chunky strips of beef, pineapple, peanuts and potatoes slowly braised in a rich mild coconut milk, made from a paste of cardamon, turmeric, cinnamon, palm sugar and tamarind ($14.00).
I really like the addition of pineapple to massaman which you don’t often see, it adds a nice level of sweetness to the curry and goes so well with the combination of spices (though Dylan still prefers his massaman without pineapple). The beef was gorgeous and tender, there were just the right number of potatoes and a little sprinkling of peanuts finished off a curry perfectly.
Pad Siew. Stir fry of thick rice noodles, chicken, chinese broccoli and eggs in a dark soy sauce seasoning ($12.00).
We don’t often order noodles when we’re dining at Thai restaurants but they were a nice change. Having been stir fried with dark soy sauce the noodles were nice and glossy and had that gorgeous gritty char you get when stir frying. The dark soy brought a wonderful flavour to the dish, though I wouldn’t have missed the carrot pieces had they been left out.
Emerald Duck. Sliced five spiced barbequed duck tossed with seasonal greens ($15.00).
The Emerald Duck sure did sound nice but I was quite disappointed when it came to the table and all I could see was the greens. The dish was really seasonal greens with a scattering of duck, but I guess for $15 this is what we should expect. While there wasn’t a lot of the duck and I found it difficult to taste the spices it did have a nice flavour. The seasonal greens of gai lan, broccolini and snow peas were nicely cooked and quite light after the heavy meat and curry dishes from earlier in the night.
Kana Moogrob. Stir fry of chinese broccoli and sliced crisp pork belly ($14.00).
I think most of our table were hoping the pork belly would be the hero of the night and while it did have slightly more meat in the dish than the Emerald Duck, sadly the pork belly just wasn’t crispy and the overwhelming portion of greens was left unfinished. It was a bit of an anticlimax, the dish has a lot of potential but just missed the mark.
So how did Chat Thai compare to other Sydney Thai eateries? The food was nice, nothing totally out of the ordinary but the big winner for Chat Thai is the value for money. The food is priced so reasonably and it is enjoyable so you can see why people go back time after time and there is always a queue out the front. Remember it is BYO so don’t forget your Singh beer and make a reservation or expect to wait for a table!
Chat Thai Haymarket
20 Campbell Street
Haymarket NSW 2000
(02) 9211 1808
Chat Thai Website