S & T Thai Gourmet Café, Northbridge
As my bestie bluntly puts it, I don’t eat enough Asian food. She’s right on some grounds – I do eat Asian cuisine, but have enough home-cooked meals made lovingly by mum that I don’t often feel the lure of my background cuisine when faced with eating out options. I usually want to try something different, something strange, inventive and un-attempted in my parent’s kitchen. This time around, the bestie enticed me to try out S & T Thai Gourmet Café, which I heard great things about.
The café itself doesn’t look like anything particularly special – it could easily be your run of the mill restaurant. The white walls are bare apart from a few random paintings, the chairs are plastic and there is that impenetrable whiff of tamarind in the air as you step through the doors. I wasn’t particularly excited by the ambience, but I was ready to let the food speak for itself.
One thing I wasn’t ready for was the sheer number of dishes available on offer. I had a minor nervous breakdown, faced with a double sided A2 laminated menu of new dishes (as well as specials adorning the walls), finally allowing the bestie to decide on what to eat. She recommended that we try the Thai Iced Tea with milk. I quizzed her about the contents as it came out – she reported there was black tea (of course), ice (check), condensed milk and something else which tasted like cane syrup and a few different spices. I was intrigued by its vibrant orange colour, but rather enjoyed the spikes of sweetness we got every time I had a sip. The dairy drink would also surely mellow out the chilli that we would be consuming later on.
To start off, the bestie suggested we go for the Goong Looy Fire ($16.90), BBQ marinated prawns skewers served with chilli sauce. There were at least ten succulent prawns, cooked to absolute perfection, pearly flesh still in tact speared on the skewers. They had been sprinkled with chilli and shallots, alongside a wedge of lemon. The prawns had already been doused in a sweet chilli sauce, which emphasised the natural flavours of the prawns. More sweet chilli sauce rounded off the dish. It was phenomenal and a real stand out dish-of-the-day.
From the S & T special menu we had the Miend Pia Tu ($15) which was a traditional Thai dish. The bestie asked how to approach the platter of ingredients, the waitress telling us that we should treat everything as components of a wrap. Each of us grabbed a broad piece of lettuce, piling it with thai spaghetti (or as we call it, noodles), red onion, peanuts and fish. I’m not great at eating fish off the bone – mum often deep fries her fish in the same manner as the Miend Pia Tu, but I’ve had a long standing phobia that I will die with something sharp stuck in my throat, exacerbated by the fact that I’m well aware of how delicate our swallowing mechanism is as a Speechie. The bestie was kind enough to flesh out a few portions for me to put into my wrap and I topped it with a bit of the sweet and sour dressing off to the side. There were also snips of garlic and fresh chilli for those who enjoy it, but I gave both a miss whilst the bestie downed it.
The papaya salad with salted raw swimmer crab ($12.90) had strips of green papaya based in a sweet and sour dressing. Also included were halves of tomatoes, green beans and the raw swimmer crab. I had never tried raw crab before, so I was intrigued by the experience – the glistening, translucent flesh was still infused with the subtle saltiness of the sea. It was at this point that I was really getting into the crunch and chew of the papaya so I started consuming it rapidly, only to sudden realise that something bad was happening. I had bitten on, vigorously chewed and half swallowed a green chilli. Immediately, I could feel a searing burning sensation alongside the back of my tongue. As someone who can’t even take the mild spiced chicken on the Nando’s spectrum, fear seared through my mind. I was going to die of heat overdose!
I turned to have long, strong swallow of my iced tea to calm down the palate (by this point my face and beyond was reaching boiling point) only to realise, to my horror, that I had consumed all of my iced tea. The bestie leapt into action, smashing out the “water” button on the little intercom pad next to our table number. A carafe was popped on the table and I drank to my heart’s content, however I still felt like I needed fire emergency services to enter my mouth and evacuate the remaining surviving taste buds. I stuffed the rest of the Thai Spaghetti into my mouth (I had vivid memories of my mother saying that rice often would cure the burn of chilli) which semi-sated the quench of fire. Whew. What a fiasco.
After the bestie had a belly laugh at my pitiful reaction, we settled on a dessert special, the coconut ice cream with sweet sticky rice ($5). A few strips of anemic mango sat on top, along with a splash of syrup and a few peanuts. It was a rather bland looking dessert, but what it lacked in appearance was made up for in taste. I really liked the coconut ice cream – it was particularly icy, with a consistency closer to a sorbet than an ice cream and had a beautiful fragrance about it. The sticky, glutinous rice at the bottom was the best – a little warm and not too sweet.
The service was very quick, assisted by the intercom at the side of our table number that had been labeled “bill,” “water,” and “waiter.” I jokingly said that it reminded me a bit of the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire lifelines – the “waiter” button was our “phone a friend” option (rather handy when we didn’t know exactly how to eat the Miend Pia Tu or wanted our dishes cleared away in prep for dessert), with the water button literally saving me from rolling on the floor in abject pain from the chilli.
Positives about S & T Thai Gourmet included clean, delicious food that was a great insight into traditional Thai food. It was an enjoyable dining experience that allowed me to venture out of my normal comfort zone and on top of that it was a relatively cheap meal, $49.80 for the both of us! The sheer number of dishes on offer provided great variety, sure to please any one looking for a feed in the China Town section of William Street. Best of all was the small cooking demonstration going on at the front of the store – freshly made crispy crepes at $6 a box were on sale, but the bestie and I passed as we were so full to the brim of food. Overall I had a great time at S & T Thai Gourmet Café and would happily return!
Rating: 7 out of 10.
Address: 349 William Street, Northbridge 6000
- Open for lunch and dinner every day of the week (from 11am to 9pm daily).
- Take away and additional baked desserts are available at the front counter!
- Daily specials optional for around $10-$15 per dish.
- Reservations can be made via phone (contact: 9328 8877).