Sunday, May 20, 2012
RESTAURANT: Chat Thai Westfield Sydney
Chat Thai's original branch in Haymarket is a pretty classic restaurant. Along with Spice I Am it's probably one of the best examples of Sydney Thai (TM) you can find and the answer to which is better will depend on who you ask.
For me, I've always preferred Spice I Am for the (slightly) less cramped surrounds, (slightly) more forgiving wait times and (slightly) more interesting dishes. But that's not to say I haven't enjoyed a spicy embrace with Chat Thai Haymarket from time to time. Chat Thai at the Galeries even became a bit of a lunchtime favourite for a while.
So to the more upmarket surrounds of Westfield Sydney doth the tentacle expandeth and I finally get to find out what a slightly more upmarket version of Chat Thai is like.
The answer is dark lighting, (slightly) less cramped surrounds (though you're still cheek by jowl with the neighbouring table), a few more Isaan style dishes, more booze and plenty more of that great food that has made Chat Thai so beloved.
"Fresh" spring rolls are a nice starter, with some rice paper coming filled with smoked fish, chicken and crab. So too the delicious fermented pork sausages (pictured). Chicken satay is always a popular starter but this version is more good than great.
I always love to see the green papaya salad with fermented crab on a menu, so the no-joke one here was a define pleaser. It's hot as hell and the salty/spicy/sour flavours are massive.
Panang curry was good, if slightly sweet.
There are a lot of grilled items on the menu, but the gai yang (grilled chicken) has to be a solid order. The chicken was packed with a herbacious, lemongrass flavour, well grilled and still juicy. I could have eaten a tremendous amount of it.
The dessert menu is fairly large, so you could do worse than to leave a bit of room for something sweet at the end. There are various ice/syrup/fruit combinations available (think ice kachang), but my preference was for the young coconut icecream with sticky rice, candied palm seeds and peanuts for more of a textural experience.
All in all it's more of the same Chat Thai goodness, albeit in a nicer, more expensive setting. The service is still shakey and the seating still a little cramped. Most importantly though, the food is still pretty great.
RATING: Will return to [?]