The decor is the first thing you notice. Thainatown's newest addition, Muay Thai, has taken over the former Shalom site on Pitt Street, bringing new levels of fancy with printed wallpaper, quirky seating and a bling bling chandelier that dominates the room.
Muay Thai menu and decor
The restaurant only opened in the first weekend of May, combining girly glam with a Muay Thai boxing theme. Boxing gloves and prints hang on the walls, and flat screen televisions -- set behind heavy gilt frames -- play a non-stop broadcast of Muay Thai boxing matches. It's like they've tried to design the perfect venue for date night - everybody wins!
The fanciest chair in the house
Boxing gloves and prints
We arrive for lunch and I'm excited when our waitress recommends the Khao Man Kai Tod Hadyai deep fried chicken ($10.90) as one of their specialties. I'd automatically presumed this would involve chicken wings or chicken pieces. Instead it's more like a chicken schnitzel, coated in a seasoned batter that is impressively crispy, but still lacking the juiciness and flavour you get from chicken on the bone.
Som Tum Poo $8.90
Thai papaya salad with raw pickled crab
The som tum Thai papaya salad is a clear example of the difference between most Australians' idea of an appropriate chilli scale, and the thermonuclear heat tolerance that exists in the alternate Thai universe. We deliberately ask for mild and then receive a salad that sends us breaking out into an eye-watering sweat at the first mouthful.
Once you manage to get past the realisation that your tastebuds are on fire and rapidly being incinerated, there's much to love about this salad. The raw pickled crab adds a fermented fishiness that amplifies the sweet fish sauce dressing, macerating the strips of papaya and carrot, bruised tomato pieces and crunchy lengths of green beans.
Kuay Tiew Reu Ton Tam Rab $9.50
Original special noodles in black original Muay Thai soup with chicken or beef,
bean sprout and Chinese broccoli garnished with crispy pork crackers
The G Man suggests trying the Kuay Tiew Reu Ton Tam Rab, a dish that is often incorrectly described as laksa on some Thai menus. It's more of a gravy soup, thick and hearty, that is lightened by the self-administered addition of pickled vegetables, raw red onion and a generous squeeze of lime. Beneath the pile of crackers is a huddle of noodles and chunks of chicken.
Muay Thai boxing bout on the tv screen above the kitchen
Khao Rad Kanaa Moo Grob $10.90
Crispy pork belly stir-fried with Chinese broccoli, chilli and garlic served with rice
My choice is the crispy pork belly - although the crackling isn't as crispy as I would have preferred, the vegetables are bright and fresh and the sauce is pleasingly sweet.
The menu runs across a broad range of dishes, from Sai Ouah northern-style sausages to the ubiquitous Massaman curry and an intriguing-sounding Sup Noor Mai bamboo shoot salad with smoked chilli and fermented fish sauce. And if you're up for a couple of rounds of punishment, there are six variations of som tum salad too.
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421 Pitt Street, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9212 0721
Monday to Sunday 11am-11pm
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5/17/2012 01:46:00 am