When a restaurant claims to be the best Thai restaurant in New South Wales, you have high expectations for it. It feels dubious but intriguing, walking past the Newtown windows which house not only diners, waitstaff, and Thai statuettes but also giant Transformers! Yet the food is certainly the best Thai food I might have ever had, and the table service is good enough to make us leave a tip.
For entrée, we ordered as a shared salad the Papaya Soft Shell Crab Salad, which was $13.90. Despite not being advertised as a shared plate, it was a generous bit of soft shell crab, crispy on the outside and soft with a delicious flavour on the inside. It went very well with the unripe papaya slivers, and the peanuts in the salad added an unexpected crunchy flavour. Just be aware that it contains peanuts, but the staff were so attentive that I’m sure they would fix that for you. I had an apprehension that the papaya might appear too sweet, as is the trend with a lot of Asian food in the west, but it was the right level of sourness that an unripe papaya should have, and went well with the cripsy crab and the peanuts.
For mains, we ordered the Panang Duck Curry ($21.90) and Fried Rice with Crab Meat ($22.00). We could’ve ordered unlimited white rice, for $3 per person but I thought, why not try it with the fried rice? As it happened, the fried rice was of subtle flavour and a perfect match for the richer sauce of the panang duck. I’m guessing the duck sauces was a mixture of panang spices, coconut milk and ground peanut – and the kaffir lime leaves added an extra dimension to the flavour. The crab fried rice was perfect on it’s own too – you get a generous sized plate of rice and the egg and crabmeat go very well together. Furthermore, I was pleasantly surprised to see that despite having been curried to a soft and juicy state, the duck retained the skin, which added a different texture to the creamier sauce along with the ground peanuts.Again neither the fried rice, nor the duck was a sufferer of the ‘too sweet’ affliction, which made for a well rounded palate of flavours.
We were served at the table by a range of staff but primarily Tack, and they were all friendly and attentive without being too overbearing. The service was possibly the best service I have experienced in an Australian restaurant. Possibly in this there is a lesson for Sydneyside restaurants to take from the Thai hospitality…while visiting Thailand a number of years ago, I experienced far better and friendlier service than I had in Sydney. Perhaps restaurants could treat their diners of all ages equally, like Thai Pothong. It’s not too much to ask for.
If you live or are visiting Sydney, make a trip to this restaurant a priority. The price is good for the amount you get, and the service is one of a kind. After all, it is the best Thai restaurant in NSW.