Thursday, June 9, 2011

Chat Thai, Haymarket

Chat Thai on Campbell Street

View from the second floor.
Got to love high ceilings!
Well, if you've read the about Thai Dara, you'd know that I'm really starting to like Thai food. They've got fresh salads mostly hit by sour notes in the form of green mangoes, and on the other hand,  they've also got savoury rich thick curries which I'd love to have on a cold winter day.* There's such a great range of food, and I'm sure you're bound to like something even if it's just dessert. Chat Thai makes awesome ones!

Fresh Spring Rolls $10
Filled with smoked fish sausage, shredded poached chicken,
cucumbers and shallots wrapped in rice paper.
Dressed with a sweet tamarind sauce.
Fresh spring rolls are one of my favorite things. I never skip them whenever I'm in a Vietnamese restaurant. And they had it on the menu, I decided that it was only fitting to give it a try. The Thai version had a flavorful cured fish that imparted great smokiness, there was tofu**, and your usual vermicelli. The rice wrapper had a bite to it! Thank God it wasn't one of those flimsy ones- those are just annoying cause everything just starts popping out after your first bite.

Mu Bhing- $2/each
Skewered and cahr grilled lean pork marinated in galangal,
lemongrass, and garlic accompanied with nahm jim jeaw.
Then came the skewers. Pork satay skewers. They weren't fatty or tough which I think is the ultimate opposite of Filipino pork barbeque, isn't it? There was a ton of peanut in the sauce as well. Thumbs up!

Massaman Curry- $12
Chunky strips of beef, pineapple, peanuts, and potatoes
slowly braised in a rich mild coconut curry made from
paste of cardamom, tumeric, cinnamon,
palm sugar, and tamarind.

Chicken Pad Thai- $8.90
A sweet and salty stir fry of thin rice noodles with dried shrimps,
salted radish, ground peanuts, eggs, garlic chives, and bean sprouts.
For mains, there was Massaman Beef Curry and Pad Thai. The beef curry had coconut cream in it and it was just boom right up there. This was the disappointing dish. The beef was dry, and that alone wouldn't really tempt you to go for seconds. Pad Thai was gorgeous though! Perfectly cooked noodles with plenty of peanuts. The sweet salty balance was terrific!

Now, let me blow your mind with their desserts. It was so good it gives me goosebumps. And, the names are challenging as hell to pronounce.

Khanom Craok- $7Sweet and salty coconut puddings
toasted in a cast iron griddle.

And this is what they look like when halved.
Khanom Craok. Have you had maja blanca? This is the Thai version, it's prettier sister if you will. It's more fragrant and coconutty! I like that word, cocoNUTTY. It has a slight crust from the cast iron grill but the inside remains silky. You'd find pandan and corn in there.

Kai Nok Gatah- $7
Lightly fried sweet potato paste dumplings


And the coconut ice cream.

This is how you should have it!

From all the Thai desserts I've tried, my favorite is this one- Kai Nok Gatah. They're sweet potato paste dumpings, I know how weird that must be sounding at the moment. It has a bewildering springy texture and there's that whole play of give and bite which is hardly relates to anything I've tried before. It's not that sweet, and in my opinon, it might just be bordering the line of sweet savoury. But then you know, you've got a pair it with something that just stamps it with dessert! Coconut ice cream! That day, the ice cream wasn't as rich as I remembered but of course, the sweet potato balls compensated for everything.

And when we left, the place was packed.
Thank God we got there early!

Chat Thai
20 Campbell St.
Haymarket, Sydney

* Cold winter day like yesterday. I went out and almost died. Temperature was down to 10 degrees. BRRRR.

** Tofu is on the list of things that I absolutely love along with steak, egg, and eggplant! And no, I wouldn't eat tofu, steak, egg, and eggplant all together, I think that's just weird. But if you do have a recipe for it and it looked irresistibly tasty, I might just might give it a whirl.

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