The stand out new dining experience for me in Sydney was Chat Thai in the new city Westfield shopping centre. One of a growing chain of restaurants boasting authentic Thai food, my friend Mel and I chose it on her recommendation, and because it had a queue out the front. We’d just completed the harbour bridge climb, which was quite a lot of fun, I have to say, and were just starting to get ravenous. Taking the escalator up to the top of the shopping centre, we found a mass of people sitting outside Chat Thai, waiting for a table. Everywhere else was doing a brisk trade, but had a few tables free. We could have walked into any other restaurant and had a good meal I’m sure, but we didn’t. We checked how long the queue was going to be—the waitress we spoke to estimated a fifteen minute wait—looked at each other and shrugged. We could wait fifteen minutes.
And I’m very glad we did.
I often say that we don’t get a lot of good Thai food in Melbourne. Part of the reason of course, is that there isn’t quite as many Thai people in Melbourne as there are in Sydney. We seem to have a much larger Vietnamese community—and as a result have more Vietnamese restaurants than Sydney does, which is excellent, but after living in Hong Kong for nine years where my family had a more or less dedicated table at a certain Thai restaurant, I really do miss good Thai food, and I can’t afford to be a regular feature at Longrain. Chat Thai isn’t cheap by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s reasonable as long as you remember the dishes are meant to be shared.
We ordered a green curry, a thai beef salad and the char grilled tumeric and lemongrass chicken, which was the closest one I’ve had to my childhood memories from Asia. They also had fresh coconut water, which made me a very happy man. The food was light, filling, beautifully balanced and had just the right level of sweet, sour and hot that you look for in good thai food. I don’t pretend to be an expert, but I left a very happy man wishing I could go back and order a pad thai. We nearly did, but the waiter warned us that might have been too much food—and it probably would have been.
The issue with reviewing a place like Chat Thai, I suppose, is that the food was excellent, but there’s very little more that I’d want to say about it other than it’s great food, worth the price and that you should go check it out. I do recommend the beef salad, which was the dish of the night for me, but other than that I don’t want to rave to much. Still, a place with fresh coconut water available is always going to have a place in my heart—that’s the true taste of Thailand if you ask me.
Rating: 4 spoons out of 5
Price: Average, $30-$40 a head.