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Melbourne, Thai - authentic pls?

p
p0lst3r Oct 24, 2013 03:08 AM

Went to Ghin Khao in Swanston St CBD tonight. Menu looked great.

The papaya salad with salted crab was such a disappointment. Gooey sweet, no sour. Crab wasn't crushed so couldn't even taste in salad. I asked for some fresh lime thinking I could try to rescue but they didn't have lime, only lemon. I tried that but it was still way too sweet.

The beef salad also wasn't sour and toasted rice was ground to a powder (so no texture). No herbs to speak of.

I'm staying in Caulfield North where Thai Restaurants are very Chinese. I expected more from Ghin Khao in CBD. What is a Thai restaurant without fresh lime and Thai herbs in their dishes?

Can anyone suggest a real Thai restaurant in Melbourne that has food similar to what's found in Thailand? I mean not altered for local tastes or lack of ingredients. Somewhere that knows how to balance sour, salty, sweet and spicy, and knows how to combine textures. That's what Thai food is all about, right?

  1. m
    mr_gimlet Oct 24, 2013 12:00 PM

    Nope, because there isn't one. You need to get on a plane to Sydney and open your wallet. There are occasional reports of authentic thai places opening, but they go mainstream very quickly. There are rumours of a Thai muslim place in Coburg, and a possibility in Airport West, but just fleeting rumours.

    And you don't get lime (or lots of herbs) unless you pay real money - they're not going to blow $1 on a lime for an $8 dish.

    I was probably a little harsh in my opening paragraph - if you are prepared to pay $30 for a main, then there are a couple of contenders.

    4 Replies
    1. re: mr_gimlet
      p
      p0lst3r Oct 29, 2013 11:53 AM

      Hm, well that explains why the pics on Ghin Khao's menu looked more authentic than the food that arrived. And early reviews made it sound authentic. I guess they started out trying to do real Thai food but succumbed to commercial pressure.

      Just noticed my local (cheap) fruit and veg selling limes for $2 each. WTF? I've literally just moved back to Melb from HK where a bag of about 10 calamanisi was AU$0.60.

      The beauty of Thai food is that the best is available to everybody, it's on the street and it's cheap. The idea of paying a lot of money for it kills me - it just goes against the grain of what it's all about. Same goes for Vietnamese food but seems easy to get fairly authentic Vietnamese at a low-ish price in Melb. I'm not being tight - just often prefer to pay a family restaurant for simple food true to their cuisine rather than the whole name-chef hyped consumer-targeted restaurant experience. I know, I've come to the wrong city.

      BTW, Dahon Tea Lounge had relatively authentic Filipino food. Little expensive (not overly) but I guess that's the South Melbourne rent. Not a particularly friendly place, but will go back many times for the food, nonetheless.

      1. re: p0lst3r
        m
        mr_gimlet Oct 29, 2013 12:55 PM

        There are always pockets once you get into cheaper suburbs, like Somali in Heidelberg West, but everywhere else succumbs to the whitey dollar. The holdouts are authentic regional Chinese that have their own clientele and some brave Australians - early Dainty Sichuan, for example, never compromised on the oilslick on its hotpots.

        Melbourne seems to have developed a niche in taking inexpensive street food (Mexican, BBQ, meatballs) and turning it into really expensive CBD restaurants.

        And I take your point on accessible Thai street food, but markets and produce infrastructure all go with that, along with very high population densities and tiny wages.

        1. re: mr_gimlet
          kersizm Oct 29, 2013 08:15 PM

          Mr G have you been to Colourful Yunnan in Carlton?

          Speaking of Carlton; unfortunately, I've noticed that Nasi Lemak House has hipsterfied. It's still great food but the serves and selection are smaller.

          KZM

          1. re: kersizm
            m
            mr_gimlet Oct 31, 2013 12:19 AM

            Nearly :-) I was invited, and reports back were very good, but it's probably my least favourite regional Chinese food. Too much oil and spam.

            But my Chinese friends were very happy with it.

    2. haynes Oct 31, 2013 03:02 AM

      I'm pretty happy with iSpicy in Richmond. Stopped in the first time because I saw khanom khrok on the menu, kept coming back for the quality of the food.

      http://www.ispicy.com.au/

      2 Replies
      1. re: haynes
        p
        p0lst3r Nov 4, 2013 12:28 AM

        Hm, they do say on website they have Thai chef and target Thai diners, and specifically mention they have all the Thai herbs etc.

        Will definitely give this a try. It's likely if I tell them I want the real thing they'll make it for me.

        Will let you know how I go.

        Thanks!

        1. re: p0lst3r
          haynes Nov 4, 2013 12:36 AM

          I'm a big fan of the pork shank, and I know people who come all the way in from Footscray to get the kang kong with pork belly (though I think of that as more a Malay dish than Thai.)

      2. m
        mr_gimlet Nov 4, 2013 11:09 AM

        OK, I am going to stick my neck out and recommend A Taste of Thai in Coburg

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