Friday, April 4, 2014

Samosorn by Chat Thai – Thai for food hall

The Asian concepts of street food and hawker stalls are yet to develop in Australia but with the opening of Samosorn Thai Local Food Hall in the Myer food court in Pitt Street Mall last Saturday, we're a step closer.

Entry sign at Samosorn Thai Local Food Hall at Sydney Central Plaza food court
(beneath Myer), Pitt Street Mall, Sydney
The latest venue from the people behind Chat Thai, Samosorn – Thai for 'food hall' – brings a Thai street food vibe to one of the city's busiest food courts; or at least as much of that vibe as Sydney's relatively strict food safety regulations allow.

Seating in Samosorn

Display cabinets filled with vintage Thai packaging
But don't expect your average food court experience – Samosorn has gone all-out on recreating a Bangkok streetside styled with hawker stall signage, authentic wooden stools, vintage decorations and even a mock roadside sewer.

Mock sewer

Samosorn "food stalls"
Designed to take the rat racer out of the Sydney CBD, if only for an hour lunch break, Samosorn offers atmospheric, escape-from-a-food-court, in-restaurant seating that really is worlds away from the fluorescence of the rest of the food court, which seems to be slowly picking up its game.

Seating in Samosorn
The food hall concept focuses on fast, fresh Thai food prepared from a number of stations. Diners order from the front register, find a table and wait for food to be delivered to their upright spatula table numbers.

Noodle station
There are plenty of dishes that will be familiar to Chat Thai diners – there's no escaping from our national favourites of padt thai and chicken satay skewers, and Chat Thai crowd-pleasers like grapao mhu grob stir fried crisp pork belly with rice.

Items for the grill

Pork skewers on the grill
But with dedicated grill and salad sections in Samosorn's open kitchen, it's hard to go past dishes like the tender mhu bing grilled pork skewers or the north-east Thai Issan-style som dtum taardt; a Samosorn signature dish that you're unlikely to find anywhere else in Sydney at the moment.

Shredded green papaya

Som dtum salad station
A variation of the som dtum green papaya salad that the Thais like so fiery hot, the som dtum taardt is served to share, "family style" on a colourful round platter.

It features a freshly mortar-and-pestle mixed som dtum variety – ours a Thai favourite of som dtum thai-bpu with pungently pickled and fermented small whole black crabs – surrounded by an array of sides to be eaten with the salad.

Som dtum taardt
The pickled crab papaya salad comes with house made pork and fish skin crackling, thin rice noodles, a hard-boiled egg, blanched choy sum, raw cabbage, Thai basil, bean sprouts, peanuts and firm tofu.

It becomes a DIY salad that never loses interest, with the spicy, fishy som dtum thai-bpu playing star to a cast of supporting and contrasting ingredients, most of them pretty healthy.

Som dtum thai
We also had the normal som dtum thai salad, served without the fishy crabs and plenty of green beans, cherry tomatoes, peanuts, dried shrimp and fresh chilli in what was probably considered a "medium" level of heat for Thai diners, but a little painful for me.

The accompanying woven basket of warm sticky rice is ideal to temper the chilli heat of the som dtum.

Gai yaang - Char grilled marinated chicken
After the som dtum there was tender, moist relief in the whole char grilled chicken, served with a sweet dipping sauce of smoked chilli and tamarind.

The chopped pieces of the whole chicken had a delectable smokiness from the char grill and sweetly marinated, crisp caramelised skin.

Lodt Shong Singapore drink
Also helping me cope with the spice was a dessert-like drink of coconut milk and chewy green pandan noodles – much like Malaysian cendol – and some jackfruit or mango, I think, cooled down with loads of crushed ice in a giant glass mug.

There's also a range of quite traditional crushed ice drinks and herbal teas on offer, including the nahm buoy sweet pickled plum iced tea and the nahm krachiap iced hibiscus drink.

Condiments and seasonings

Deep fry station
With a pretty extensive menu of noodles – stir fried and in soup – grilled items, spicy salads and one-plate-rice dishes predominantly sub $14, food court lunches are taking on new meaning at Samosorn, which is taking on the streets of Bangkok in the heart of Sydney CBD.

Disclosure: Food, booze and shoes dined as a guest of Samosorn, and is acquainted with staff and owners of Samosorn and Chat Thai.

Samosorn - Thai Local Food Hall on Urbanspoon


Richard Elliot said...

I love Chat Thai and depressingly we don't have anywhere like it in London. It's a real shame I am a bit too far from Samosorn to give it a try.

Is there a little booth where you buy vouchers (or if it is a posh food court top up an electronic payment card) to pay for your food at the stalls?

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I've been meaning to go here as we really like Chat Thai! What a fun looking place!

Unknown said...

Wow well done chat Thai for opening such an amazing concept. Love all the different colours on that som dtum salad!

Tina said...

Hi Richard - Such a shame; you must be missing all our awesome Thai restaurants. You pay at the front counter for everything (it's not a real hawker stall, unfortunately).

Hi Lorraine - Yep, with lots on the menu to try :)

Hi Bernard - Yep, lots of colour on lots of the plates :D

Unknown said...

Looks like a very similar concept to Lang Suan Thai Street Food in the new upmarket food court at Westfield Eastgardens.

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