7/370-374 Victoria Avenue
Chatswood NSW 2067
+61 2 9412 4978
When it comes to Thai food, Sydney has no shortage of excellent restaurants. Sure, you’ll still get below average Thai eateries offering menus filled with coconut milk-heavy dishes that are often way too sweet but for the most part, the options are better than in Melbourne. And with the exception of Long Chim et al, most of them are inexpensive too.
One of my favourite Thai restaurants on the North Shore is Khao Pla in Chatswood; there is a second branch at Macquarie Centre too. Headed by Chef Pla Rojratanavichai (ex-Spice I Am, Mr Wong and Ms.G’s), Khao Pla is a popular choice for several reasons: it’s reasonably priced and there is a variety of dishes from the usual suspects such as pad thai as well as more unusual dishes like the wok fried razor clams with chilli jam and basil. Best of all, the service is efficient so you can pop in right after work and make it out in time for the next screening of the new Star Wars movie.
I’m no Star Wars fan but I do appreciate a quick and easy dinner away from the kitchen, especially when good Thai food is involved. I came here with my friend L-Fly who is no longer a Chatswood local but is frequently in the area if he wants his Asian food fix. We sat outside so we could enjoy the balmy evening air and share some dishes. First up, the isaan steak tartare. I’m a sucker for Northeast Thai (‘isaan’) flavours and this starter packed a punch. Served with prawn crackers on the side, the tartare had lots of lime juice and a generous amount of fiery scud chillies for maximum impact. Delicious, yet lethal.
Our next starter was the hor mok yang, or the grilled fish curry wrapped in banana leaf. Being Indonesian, I was instinctively expecting a wet curry with a rendang-like texture; instead, this curry had more of a custardy texture. While it was tasty, I was expecting it to be hot rather than mild.
Call me a farang all you like but I do like a good pad thai and Khao Pla delivered. Many Thai restaurants give you the option to spice up your pad thai with your choice of protein but here, you get what they give you: chicken, egg and a bit of dried shrimp with some bean sprouts and peanuts for good measure. It was a decent pad thai and you won’t go wrong if you order it but in all honesty, you’re better off sampling Khao Pla’s signature dishes as they are harder to find in Sydney. (I’m definitely going for the razor clams next time.)
The final dish we had was the kana moo krob, a lovely dish of fried crispy pork belly cooked with lots of scud chillies and Chinese broccoli. I’m not a huge fan of pork belly but L-Fly is so this made the cut – this was also some sort of payback for me ordering the pad thai, I guess. Despite not being a huge fan of pork belly, I did find the pork to Chinese broccoli ratio a bit off but it was nevertheless a tasty dish with a little hint of heat to make things interesting.
I would definitely like to come back for round two eventually. The problem with Sydney is that there are just so many Thai restaurants and I haven’t ticked off many from my ‘to go to’ list. That said, many of them are nowhere near as reasonably priced as Khao Pla (none of the dishes we ordered were more than $20) so maybe I will find myself going back before they announce the next Star Wars movie.