Saturday night was the crest of my birthday weekend in Sydney and I maintain even now that one of my favorite presents was getting to see my dearest Mochi! She and David had flown in from Melbourne so we were effectively 'meeting in the middle', geographically. Ya gotta love planes and how easy they make it to stay in touch with interstate buddies.
I love that even though Mochi's moved to Melb, her knowledge of the best eating spots transcends beyond her new home town. Heck, even when she comes back to Brisbane, she seems more clued in than me. Sydney was a no-brainer. Marc's lazy and I've fallen way behind the ball with knowing what's good so we left it all in Mochi's capable hands.
There was originally a plan to go to Hurricane but even at 9pm, there was a 1 hour wait. We redirected ourselves to a Laos restaurant called Holy Basil but when Mochi walked past Home Thai, it's inviting decor and best of all, availability of tables, lured her in.
I was stoked because Marc and I had tossed up the idea of trying Chat Thai the night before but opted for Italian instead so it was nice to see we would get our Thai food fix after all.
I racked my brain over where I had seen 'Home Thai' before and then it hit me: Shanghai. I've done some Googling since and discovered that yes, it wasn't just some random Thai restaurant in Shanghai that happened to have the same name, there truly is another branch in Shanghai.
The menu is a delight to leaf through. Bear in mind I live in Toowoomba, a city plentiful in Thai and Indian restaurants. Unfortunately, over-exposure to Thai restaurants in Toowoomba have given me the impression that it's normal for menus to contain nothing more than varieties of curry, a few of fried noodles and perhaps some odd Chinese dishes thrown in. Home Thai was a great extention from that and in particular, had lots of unique-sounding entrees.
We ended up picking some entrees, a curry, a noodle and a salad to share.
For beverages, most of us opted for beer but Mochi ordered a black iced coffee. I forgot to take a photo but I thought I would mention it because we all found it to be rediculously sweet. I have an aversion to any form of sugar in beverages and this nearly made my head spin. It's what I imagine coke syrup to be like before they add soda. Urgh.
Fresh spring roll - wrapped with chicken mince, Chinese pork sausage, cucumber, tofu, bean sprouts, egg and crab meat on top
Our food arrived really quickly. The first entree were the fresh spring rolls . They looked simple but were packed with ingredients. I thought the overall flavor of the filling was quite zesty, well-balanced out by the sauce. I found this to be a great appetizer because it got me in the mood for more eating. Having said that, the crab meat on top didn't do much for me.
From that point on, plates were being brought in left, right and centre so we were no longer sticking to any convention of entrees-first, mains-next. That was fine by us since we were all sharing the whole lot anyway. It gave the impression of feastiness.
Seafood glass noodle pad thai - with soft tofu, egg, pickled raddish, garlic chives, bean sprouts, chili powder, tamarind sauce, palm sugar and fish sauce
I was adamant on ordering a pad thai because regardless of its authenticity (some argue it's a very touristy dish but I've been to Thailand and happen to think they DO eat fried noodles like that there) I think it's delicious. We went for the glass noodle variety for something different. It arrived with some of the seasoning separately placed on top and Mochi mixed it all up for us. I thought this was super tasty and the glass noodles were texturally very different to the standard thick rice noodles used in pad thai.
Spicy thai sausage - homemade spicy herb sausage from Northern Thailand
The spicy pork sausage was the next item I tried. There was a fair bit of heat (spiciness) but the sausage was so packed with other flavors (very savory and very garlicky) that it's an enjoyable assault to the senses. I think this would make a great beer snack but in the context of the feast, I was distracted by other dishes.
Green chicken curry - with coconut milk, cherry eggplant, apple eggplant, basil, lime leaf and red chili
The curry was something we were all looking forward to. I thought it was very good but, embarrasing as it is to admit, too spicy for me. I would be too ashamed to even write that on here and instead pretend that I ate a hearty amount like the others but David agreed with me so I feel that I'm not alone in my judgement. Perhaps the curry WAS truly hot rather than me just losing my ability to handle spice. Marc and Mochi loved it though and needless to say, it gave Marc something to tease me about afterwards. Bloody spice bully.
Banana flower salad - with prawns, shallot, coriander, onion, dried coconut, cashew nuts, fried shallots, chili jam and chef's dressing
My escape from the curry was the wonderful banana flower salad. Because I'm cuckoo crazy, my immediate family and Marc know that I go through phases of preaching certain diet patterns with religious intensity. Mochi doesn't get that much exposure to me these days and she looked quite affronted when I was raving about how evil vegetables are. If Mochi is reading this: I've revised my theory; vegetables are essential for healthy living, as my bowels will attest to.
Moving on... the banana flower salad was initially Mochi's choice because she felt like she hadn't been eating enough vegetables and a salad would be a means of remedying that fact. I was never a big fan of Thai papaya salads so I didn't expect to enjoy this but I did. I maintain that the success of this dish would be based purely on freshness of ingredients, balance of the dressing and to an extent, knife skills and it succeeded here. Actually, it may be my favorite dish of the lot.The fat prawns crowning the salad was the icing on the cake.
Kao kreab pak mhor - steamed rice flour with sweet peanuts, palm sugar and pork mince
The final dish in my review was one that Mochi and I didn't really understand on the menu and once our party had tasted it, still remained rather mysterious. I would rate this 'fair' as it was interesting enough but probably not something I would order again.
Overall, Home Thai was a commendable effort from Mochi for a) recommending the place and b) choosing most of the dishes. I enjoyed pretty much everything I tasted (besides the iced coffee) and found the overall standard of dishes to be fresh, well-balanced and well-proportioned. The service was very efficient and I liked the feel of the restaurant too. It was nice to see an open kitchen at the front because to me, that always implies the restaurant is confident in it's standard of cleanliness.