Review: Khao Pla (Sydney, NSW)

7/370-374 Victoria Avenue
Chatswood NSW 2067
+61 2 9412 4978
http://www.khaopla.com.au/

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.

Isaan steak tartare ($13)

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.

Hor mok yang ($8)

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.)

Pad thai ($12)

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.

Kana moo krob ($16)

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.

Khao Pla Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Review: Gelateria Gondola (Sydney, NSW)

2/77 Archer Street
Chatswood NSW 2067
+61 2 8084 1714
http://gelateriagondola.com.au/

There’s some amazing gelati to be found in Sydney and we’re not just talking about the likes of Messina and Cow & The Moon (review to come soon). We’re also referring to the humble small operations in Sydney’s leafy ‘burbs that don’t get the hype as those big players do. Instead, they happily continue to do what they’ve been doing since day one without so much as a fuss. Chatswood’s Gelateria Gondola happens to be one of them.

I caught up with my brother-from-another-Asian-mother Lawrence one Friday night after dinner. Lawrence and I met on Tinder back in Melbourne one evening and after a couple of drinks at 1806 (a flowery cocktail for him, a whisky for me), we already knew we were going to be great friends. Lawrence is a Sydneysider so whenever I’m in town, we always catch up for dinner and/or drinks on the Friday night.

On this particular Friday night, we did laps around the North Shore before stopping for dessert. Preferring to shy away from Messina’s queues, Lawrence suggested we go to one of this favourite neighbourhood ice cream spots.

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Gondola’s all about making fresh artisan gelati in small batches every day. There is no wankery involved and no crazy flavours ‘just because’; it’s all classic flavours made with natural ingredients. Nothing more, nothing less.

Jersey milk gelato (one scoop, $5); pineapple and salted caramel gelati (two scoops, $7.50)
Jersey milk gelato (one scoop, $5); pineapple and salted caramel gelati (two scoops, $7.50)

Lawrence always goes for the fresh jersey milk gelato and I can see why – it’s so lusciously creamy with the slightest hint of sweetness for that bit of buzz. Meanwhile, I went sweet and sour with my pineapple and salted caramel combo. My salted caramel gelato was creamy – not as much as Lawrence’s but that was no problem – and, unlike other salted caramel-flavoured stuff out there, was actually more salty rather than sweet. LIKE LIKE LIKE. My pineapple gelato was cool and refreshing without being too sweet – it was almost like eating a frozen pineapple.

In my opinion, Gondola doesn’t get the recognition it deserves but the owners don’t seem to mind. All they care about is going about their business making good gelati with obvious passion rather than trending on Twitter. Much love to these guys – and their pineapple gelato.

Gelateria Gondola on Urbanspoon