Chat Thai - Westfield
Time Out says
Flick beyond the usual favourites at Chat Thai's city-slicking Westfield outpost – and don't skip dessert
Sydney’s Thai cuisine, as it exists in the city’s mainstream culinary scene now, has been shaped and moulded by a small handful of eateries. One of those is the Chat Thai restaurant group.
Owner and founder Amy Chanta opened the first branch in Haymarket 30 years ago, after recognising that now-popular staple dishes – green curry, pad Thai, basil-laden stir-fries – were the gateway to introducing Thai cooking to Sydneysiders. Since its inception, six more Chat Thai outlets have sprung up across the city.
While it may sit on the sixth floor of a glossy, mirror-walled shopping centre, the Westfield CBD Chat Thai feels far from a mall restaurant and closer to eating along the streets of Bangkok with its buzzing vibes, loitering crowds and roaring flames from the open kitchen.
Although it’s easy go straight to ordering old favourites – chicken pad Thai, padt si-ew, som dtum Thai (green papaya salad), beef mussamun curry, and a beautifully presented whole fried barramundi topped with either a green mango salad or fresh chilli and a garlic-lemon dressing – you’d be better off taking your time to peruse the 107-item, leather-bound menu.
Chat Thai’s menu features a mix of typical street food – think lightly salted and crunchy fried school prawns with sweet chilli sauce – along with more home-style dishes. Bitter melon and glass noodles are stir-fried until soft and served with scrambled eggs coloured with light soy to counterbalance the bitterness from the melon. A steaming hot bowl of hot and sour soup is topped with pork ribs, braised until they’re so tender that their cartilage is chewable.
Dishes specific to the Thai diaspora show their faces too, as well as pepperings from different cuisines, like Chinese, Malaysian, Laos and Indian. Like, for instance, the Malay-Indian style spicy crab curry is mellowed out by creamy coconut milk and the fragrant sweetness of betal leaves, which are grown and supplied by the family’s Boon Luck Farm in Byron Bay – use extra fine vermicelli noodles to mop up all the curry sauce. Otherwise, try the warm char roasted eggplant salad with minced chicken and prawns. Its fish sauce dressing ticks all the flavour notes of spicy, sweet, sour and salty you’d expect from Thai cooking.
During lunch service, Chat Thai Westfield caters for hungry office workers after a quick and easy feed. A menu section lists ‘one plate wonders’: down at the very bottom of it is a typically Thai lunch plate, known for its affordability and high protein content: a whole fried mackerel resting on a bed of fried rice mixed through with pea eggplants, slices of cucumber and a dipping dish of shrimp paste relish.
Westfield’s Chat Thai also boasts a dessert bar. It’s hard to go past the wobbly squares of steamed glutinous coconut-pandan layered cake, an auspicious dessert that symbolises success in Thai traditions, as well as sticky rice and mango served with a scoop of coconut ice cream. If you’re looking for a lighter, more refreshing finish, grab the water chestnut rolled in a sweet Thai red cordial-flavoured tapioca with coconut milk, shaved ice and slithers of fresh young coconut.
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Level 6, 188 Pitt St Mall
|Price:||Up to $60|
|Opening hours:||Mon-Sun 10am-12 midnight|