There was definitely some clinking, then, at the newest Chat Thai restaurant in the CBD's Westfield Sydney. It was probably cheers to now having some decent and well-priced Thai dinner options in the city, and the availability of alcoholic beverages on this Chat Thai's menu.
|Mai Thai cocktail at Chat Thai, Westfield Sydney|
The Mai Thai is a popular choice that incites other nearby orders and inner pyromaniacs. The dark rum in the lime half cup packs the expected mai thai punch along with shaken white rum, triple sec, pineapple and lime.
|BS 101 cocktail|
|Sour monkey cocktail|
|Longan Island Iced Tea cocktail|
Aside from cocktails, there's the difficult task of electing dishes to share from the extensive menu. A beautifully photographed book, the menu is daunting and tempting with full page photos. I find it incredibly difficult not to just order the few photographed dishes.
Fried green curried prawn mousseline, drizzled with pickled plum sauce
Go past the golden crumbs into the bouncy-textured prawn mousseline with subtle curry flavours, to find large prawns cooked within. The plum sauce is just the icing on the cake, while the crisp, deep fried basil leaves are endlessly delightful.
Char grilled pork neck with smoked chilli and tamarind relish
The small pieces of pork neck have an addictive char flavour and are surprisingly tender whilst being fairly lean. The dipping sauce of chilli and tamarind adds a nice, balanced sour and sweet component.
Fried de-boned chicken wings sauteed in smoked chilli jam sauce
Here, the battered and deep fried wings soak up a smokey, sweet sauce of chilli jam; and while it would be nice if the wings stayed nice and juicy inside, this Thai play on buffalo wings is just too much fun.
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Chicken, pork, prawn and fried egg salad dressed in smoked chilli jam
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Char roasted eggplant salad with ground chicken and prawns
The silky cooked eggplant is actually quite subtle, and with onion, herbs and a light saucy dressing, the clean flavours of this salad make it a standout.
Red curry of chicken with apple eggplants, kaffir lime leaves and basil
The red curry of chicken is a people pleaser - not too hot, not too creamy, a little sweet, and with loads of chicken pieces, cute and slightly bitter apple eggplants, and lots of herbaceous goodness.
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Stir fried crisp pork belly and wild ginger in red curry paste
Crisp whole snapper in red curry
There's quite a bit of flesh on the well cooked fish, although you need to be a little careful with fish bones. Ideally, eat with caution and while not too un-sober.
I seem to stuff myself to the gills everytime I eat at Chat Thai, and while I'm happy to pass on dessert more often than not, others aren't. There is an entire front kitchen dedicated to Thai desserts at the Westfield Sydney Chat Thai (much bigger than the one at Haymarket), and the creations are nothing short of spectacular.
Sweet thin wafers filled with meringue, candied dried shrimp and herbs
A dollop of glossy white meringue is topped with diced candied dried shrimp and coriander. That's right - dried shrimp in a dessert.
I don't like dried shrimp generally, but I find it a little less challenging when candied and served with sweet meringue; taking the salty-sweet combination to another level.
|Steamed layer cake (back) and young coconut jelly|
The green and white steamed layer cakes are small but heavier nonetheless. They're almost cloyingly sweet, and flavoured with coconut and pandan for those attractive footy team stripes.
|Fresh mango with sticky rice|
The sticky rices were expectedly sweet and filling, with a touch of coconut milk for added richness. The purple-hued rice had an unusal floral taste; the colour and flavour of which I think comes from a particular blue flower used in Southeast Asian cooking.
In the end, absolutely stuffed with a fair few cocktails under the belt, it's three cheers to Chat Thai opening in the CBD.
Disclosure: Food, booze and shoes is acquainted with staff at Chat Thai Westfield Sydney and has previously dined complimentarily.