Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sesame Crisps

After hours of rolling puff pastry from scratch one weekend, and then the intense stress that led up to my first attempt at macarons the weekend after, a quick and simple recipe like these sesame crisps is exactly what appeals to me. These crunchy, light biscuits have a wonderful nutty flavour from the toasted sesame seeds and are perfect with a cup of tea. I only had white sesame seeds, but black sesame seeds would work fantastically as well. The important part about this recipe is making sure you toast the sesame seeds just right, so they have a lovely toasty flavour but aren't burnt.

I love how satisfying these are for the snack-monster in me, they were so easy and quick that I didn't mind quickly throwing them in the oven after making a spring lamb dinner. Usually I'm so lazy that I can only ever be bothered to make a nice dinner or bake up something sweet, but not both on the same night. But the best thing about biscuits is they require minimal effort, ingredients that I almost always have in my kitchen, and hardly any washing up. So while my love of baking grows and leaves me willing to spend hours and hours in the kitchen, I still love easy peasy cookies like these because I know in my early baking days this is something I would have made over and over whenever I was craving something to nibble on. You know what I mean right?

Sesame Crisps
(from Le Cordon Bleu Complete Step-by-Step)
90g butter, softened
140g sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 medium egg
100g plain flour
8 tsp sesame seeds (black and/or white)

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line or grease a large baking sheet. Toast sesame seeds in a small frying pan over medium-low heat for 1-2 minutes, stirring and shaking the pan often to prevent burning, until the seeds are lightly browned.
Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter, sugar, vanilla, salt and baking powder together until well combined. Add egg, beat until well combined. Using wooden spoon, stir in flour and baking powder until well combined.

Stir in toasted sesame seeds. Drop dough by rounded teaspoons, about 7-8cm apart, onto baking sheet. Bake biscuits about 8 minutes, until set and edges are golden.

Remove baking sheet from oven; let biscuits cool on sheet for about 30 seconds to set slightly. Using a spatula, transfer to wire racks to cool ompletely. Repeat with remaining biscuit dough. Store biscuits in tightly covered containers.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sepia, Sydney CBD

Haha sorry, I can't resist the corny...
Sepia, Sepia, Sepia. I hadn't been able to get this restaurant out of my mind after reading Foraging Otaku's review months ago, followed by eatshowandtell's review. That was enough to send this restaurant to the very top of my wishlist. I needed a reason to go for a fancy dinner, and what better occasion to celebrate than A & I's 8th anniversary? Today is the actual day of our anniversary, but we've spread it out over an 'anniversary period', in order to maximise the fun of it :) So on Friday night, we made our way to the city for a treat.

The restaurant is beautifully slick and has a low, comfortable buzz to it. I immediately love the welcoming atmosphere and for the next few hours we are completely enveloped in the experience. Since it's only the two of us, we decide to go with the degustation menu and A also gets the matching wines to go with his meal. At $130 per person plus $60 for the wines, it's incredible when you consider the calibre of the chefs at Sepia, Martin Benn (former executive chef at Tetsuya's) and Daniel Puskas (former head chef at Oscillate Wildly). Can you tell how much I was looking forward to this?
Amuse Bouche

The amuse bouche is brought to us quickly after ordering and (if I remember correctly) it is a chicken sausage with radish, enoki mushrooms and a jelly which I've forgotten. It's a tasty morsel, but A eyes it warily and goes "The dishes are going to get bigger, right?" Haha the silly boy, I reassured him that they would, he's had degustations before at so he should have known better!
BBQ Silver Lake Eel, Sushi Rice, Confit Leek and Licorice Powder

Next up is the barbequed eel. I was actually given olive powder instead of licorice powder since it had almond meal in it (I am usually okay with almond meal but I was nice to see they were being careful). A said they tasted fairly similar, the entire dish is beautifully presented and has an amazing smoky flavour. The scent and texture of the powder is a lovely addition. The rice wasn't as sticky as what I am used to in Japanese rice, but didn't really make much of a difference.
Yellow Fin Tuna Tartare, Avocado Cream, Soy and Wasabi Jelly
There was much oohing and aahing when this dish was placed in front of me. I have developed a new love of plates and cutlery since knowing Lisa, and this was a wonderful half egg-shaped glass dish with a cute wooden spoon. I wanted to steal it, spoon and all. We were instructed to either mix the dish up or try to scoop from the bottom-up, to ensure we got a bit of everything in each mouthful. The tuna was just perfect and the avocado cream and wasabi soy jelly were perfectly balanced. This was such a fun dish and it also had the most wonderful wine pairing, a 2007 Dr. Loosen Kabinett Riesling. This was probably my favourite wine out of all the 7 glasses that A was given during the night, though they were all fabulous matches for each course and definitely worth the extra $60. Oh and the sommelier is delightful, taking you on a journey through different countries with the descriptions of each wine. I was glad I got to have a taste of each with my meal, though I would be a bit woozy if I had ordered that much wine for myself.
Queensland Spanner Crab and Buckwheat Risotto, Mustard Butter, Shellfish Essence
Surprisingly, this was possibly one of my favourites of all the seafood dishes. Unexpected because I am not usually too impressed with any risottos or foams. But this was an explosion of flavour, it was so incredibly rich and heady from the crab and tangy mustard butter and I was scraping up every last drop of it. The buckwheat risotto was a great textural change from the usual risotto rice, it had a real bite to it.
Butter Poached Blue Eye, Baby Fennel, Pickled Cuttlefish, Smoked Ink, Bacon Floss
The butter poached fish was sweetly delicate, a stark contrast to the strong shellfish flavour of the previous course. The flesh was moist and firm and were matched well with the squid ink sauce and bacon floss. I particularly loved the texture of the picked cuttlefish in this dish, though I made an absolute mess of my plate from smearing the squid ink around clumsily.
Roast Loin of Gippsland Lamb, Crisp Lamb Belly, Braised Daikon, Jerusalem Artichoke, Mushroom Infusion
Ohhhh yes...From this point onwards we were in meat heaven. This was a stunning dish, our plates of lamb were brought out with a glass filled with the mushroom infusion. Fresh mushrooms, some of my favourite varieties were soaking up some of the delicious liquid, and the other half was poured over the lamb. Our lamb was perfectly cooked, pink and tender, and the firm daikon radish was just the right partner for the strong lamb flavour. The added crunch of the crisp lamb belly was similar to crackling and the thin petals of jerusalem artichoke hidden under the meat was a pleasant surprise. The mushroom infusion was probably the highlight of this dish, and we were given spoons to drink up the liquid.
Mushroom Infusion
A grabbed the mushroom glass with a cheeky glint in his eye and started scooping out all the fresh mushrooms onto his plate, amused by the horrified anger on my face as I first thought he was taking them all for himself. But he was just taking them all out to share them between us, he would have been strangled across the dinner table if that wasn't the case!
Seared Loin of Venison with Sansho Pepper, Caramelised Witlof Hearts, Meyer Lemon Puree, Caper and Celery Leaf Jus
I have to admit I nearly drooled on my plate when the aroma of this dish hit my nose. The sweet Meyer lemon puree is the first thing that you smell, and it is mouthwatering. This venison was unbelievably tender, so much so that you could almost pry it apart with just your fork. The lemon puree, caramelised witlof and jus were so so right for this dish. This was definitely something I realised about the dishes here, you had to get a taste of every element of the dish in your mouth at once to appreciate the full impact of what they were putting on the plate. It was all so well balanced. The richness of the last two meat dishes was pushing me to my limit, and even A was looking rather full and swallowing his earlier fears from the small servings.
Pre Dessert
My favourite part of the night, dessert time! My memory is a little hazy but I think that this was a yoghurt sorbet with lychee, on top of stewed rhubarb and crumble. It was an interesting combination of flavours, I'm a crumble girl so I was happily spooning all of this up. The sorbet had a creamy tang from the yoghurt that made it an ideal palette cleanser.
Toasted Spiced Marshmallow, Coconut Sorbet, Crisp Chocolate, Sour Cherry and Blueberries
This is what I had been looking forward to the most, and I was not disappointed. Although I had looked wistfully at stunning elements of chocolate dessert covered in cocoa bubbles, alas it was only available on the a la carte menu. I made a mental note to myself to come back here with a bigger table to try everything on the a la carte menu. Our dessert is whimsical and inviting, a strip of toasted spiced marshmallow that almost acts as a winding road which leads you down to the other elements of the dish. There is so much balance to this dish, in flavour, texture and visual appeal. It just makes me smile.
Toby’s Estate Coffee, Petits Fours
The evening is winding down and we are one of the few people left in the restaurant, since we started fairly late. My latte comes out in a beautiful glass and is seriously good coffee. We miss out on the macarons because I'm the stupid allergy kid, but the passionfruit ganache filled, and violet chocolates are unique, memorable and a sweet end to a meal that has made us a happy couple indeed. This was the perfect setting for our anniversary dinner, and I hope Sydney keeps delivering restaurants like this.
Happy 8 years A, I love you!
201 Sussex St
Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9283 1990

Mon- Fri: 12pm-2pm, 6pm-10pm
Saturday: Degustation dinner only
Sepia on Urbanspoon
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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Pineapple Jam & Coconut Vols-au-Vent - Daring Bakers Sept 2009

If you had told me a year ago that I would soon have my own food blog I wouldn't have believed you for one single second. If you told me six months ago that I would be taking part in the Daring Bakers' challenges I would have laughed in your face. I could barely bake a plain yellow cake back then, and I used to read all the Daring Bakers' posts in complete awe of all the amazing creations that these talented bakers came up with. But the last few months (thanks to some healthy nagging from Lisa and Karen) I've been working up the courage to join and now I'm so glad that I finally did.

The September 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.

I was simultaneously thrilled and freaked out after finding out we would be making puff pastry from scratch for my first ever challenge. It's always something I've wanted to try making but the fairly long instructions and all that rolling and turning was slightly intimidating for a messy baker like myself who has had some disasters with pastry in the past. But the great instructions and Steph's extra tips, plus this wonderful online video of Julia Child and Michel Richard making the puff pastry, were incredibly useful and made the whole process a lot less scary. Besides the need for patience while chilling the dough, I found the recipe very straightfoward and the dough was wonderfully easy to work with. In fact, at one point as I was making a turn and was having so much fun that I started giggling deliriously and yelling "I love baking!". My boyfriend backed out of the kitchen slowly with a nervous look in his eye.

At first I was planning to do a savoury vols-au-vent but then I realised that pineapples were coming back into season here. I've been wanting to make Malaysian pineapple tarts for the longest time, and I thought the sticky, fragrant pineapple jam (stewed with cinnamon and star anise) would be a lovely match for these light, buttery puff pastry cases. For a twist, and to balance out the intense sweetness of the jam, I first filled them with a bit of pastry cream flavoured with coconut milk and then topped it off with the jam.

The puff pastry turned out beautifully flaky and layered, though on the edges of my cases the rise was slightly hindered due to the crappy plastic cutters that I used. Even so, the texture and taste were even better than I had hoped, and I think it may be hard for me to ever go back to using frozen puff now! I was also excited to find out my pineapple jam recipe tasted just like how I remembered, and these sweet, bite-sized vol-au-vents are a great little treat for an afternoon tea.

Pineapple Jam & Coconut Vols-au-Vent
Yield: 1/3 of the puff pastry recipe below will yield about 8-10 1.5" vols-au-vent or 4 4" vols-au-vent
Well-chilled puff pastry dough (recipe below)
egg wash (1 egg or yolk beaten with a small amount of water)
For the pineapple jam:
2-3 not very ripe pineapples
1 cinnamon stick
Star anise
300g caster sugar
For the coconut pastry cream:
1 cup coconut milk
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup cornflour
1/4 cup sugar
Optional: shredded coconut for decoration

Skin pineapples, cut both ends off and remove the 'eyes' by slicing diagonally underneath them, following each of the spiralling line of eyes from the top to the bottom of the pineapple. This is something I used to find horribly tedious, but gets pretty easy with some practice. (Unfortunately it also means that I'm the one who gets stuck with the job of chopping them up whenever we buy them now.) Grate the pineapples in a circular motion, this helps to reduce the fibrous texture. Drain the juice from the grated pulp using a sieve (and save the juice to drink of course!) for 10 minutes.

My two pineapples yielded 1 1/2 cups of pulp, if you end up with more or less feel free to vary the amount of sugar in the recipe accordingly. Place pulp, 1 cinnamon stick and 1 star anise in a medium saucepan and boil over medium heat for 30 minutes to reduce the water content, stirring frequently to prevent burning. When the mixture looks dry, add the 300g of sugar, stirring constantly until it is mixed through. Reduce the heat slight and cook slowly, stirring very regularly until the jam is thick in consistency and dark golden in colour.

Pour the jam straight into warmed glass jars and cover immediately. I made this the night before baking my vols-au-vent, but this jam can be stored for months in the fridge.

Using a knife or metal bench scraper, divided your chilled puff pastry dough into three equal pieces. Work with one piece of the dough, and leave the rest wrapped and chilled.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the piece of dough into a rectangle about 1/8 to 1/4-inch (3-6 mm) thick. Transfer it to the baking sheet and refrigerate for about 10 minutes before proceeding with the cutting.

(This assumes you will be using round cutters, but if you do not have them, it is possible to cut square vols-au-vents using a sharp chef’s knife. As you can tell, I used flower-shaped cutters, since Malaysian pineapple tarts are traditionally made with flower or crinkle shaped biscuits) For smaller , hors d'oeuvre sized vols-au-vent, use a 1.5" round cutter to cut out 8-10 circles. (This is the size I made)For larger sized vols-au-vent, fit for a main course or dessert, use a 4" cutter to cut out about 4 circles. Make clean, sharp cuts and try not to twist your cutters back and forth or drag your knife through the dough. Half of these rounds will be for the bases, and the other half will be for the sides. (Save any scrap by stacking—not wadding up—the pieces…they can be re-rolled and used if you need extra dough. If you do need to re-roll scrap to get enough disks, be sure to use any rounds cut from it for the bases, not the ring-shaped sides.)

Using a ¾-inch cutter for small vols-au-vent, or a 2- to 2.5-inch round cutter for large, cut centers from half of the rounds to make rings. These rings will become the sides of the vols-au-vent, while the solid disks will be the bottoms. You can either save the center cut-outs to bake off as little "caps" for you vols-au-vent, or put them in the scrap pile.

Dock the solid bottom rounds with a fork (prick them lightly, making sure not to go all the way through the pastry) and lightly brush them with egg wash. Place the rings directly on top of the bottom rounds and very lightly press them to adhere. Brush the top rings lightly with egg wash, trying not to drip any down the sides (which may inhibit rise). If you are using the little "caps", dock and egg wash them as well.

Refrigerate the assembled vols-au-vent on the lined baking sheet while you pre-heat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC). (You could also cover and refrigerate them for a few hours at this point.)

Once the oven is heated, remove the sheet from the refrigerator and place a silicon baking mat (preferred because of its weight) or another sheet of parchment over top of the shells. This will help them rise evenly. Bake the shells until they have risen and begin to brown, about 10-15 minutes depending on their size. Reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF (180ºC), and remove the silicon mat or parchment sheet from the top of the vols-au-vent. If the centers have risen up inside the vols-au-vent, you can gently press them down. Continue baking (with no sheet on top) until the layers are golden, about 15-20 minutes more. (If you are baking the center “caps” they will likely be finished well ahead of the shells, so keep an eye on them and remove them from the oven when browned. I didn't use the caps, but ate them like they were popcorn hahaha!)

Remove to a rack to cool. Cool to room temperature.

For the pastry cream, combine 1/4 cup sugar and and 3 egg yolks in a medium mixing bowl using a wooden spoon. Gradually add cornflour to the mixture until it forms a smooth, pale paste and then set aside. Heat coconut cream in a small saucepan very gradually on medium-low heat until nearly boiling. Remove saucepan from the heat and slowly pour into egg/sugar mixture, whisking constantly to prevent it from curdling. Return entire mixture to the saucepan on medium heat and whisk until the mixture becomes very thick and difficult to stir. Take care not to overheat or the coconut milk can split and make the cream very greasy (don't stress if this happens, it's still usable).

Remove from heat and allow pastry cream to cool to room temperature, covering the surface with cling film to prevent a skin forming on the top. When cooled, pipe pastry cream into vols-au-vent cases and then top each with a teaspoon of pineapple jam. Top with a small pinch of shredded coconut.

These vols-au-vents are best served on the same day that you bake them, so if you are not planning to eat them straight away, prepare and assemble the vols-au-vent cases and then store them in the freezer until needed (bake from frozen, egg-washing them first). The pastry cream can be prepared up to 3 days in advance, and as mentioned earlier, the jam can be made months in advance if you wish.

Michel Richard’s Puff Pastry Dough
(From Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan)
Yield: 2-1/2 pounds dough
2-1/2 cups (12.2 oz/ 354 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups (5.0 oz/ 142 g) cake flour
1 tbsp. salt (you can cut this by half for a less salty dough or for sweet preparations, which I did)
1-1/4 cups (10 fl oz/ 300 ml) ice water
1 pound (16 oz/ 454 g) very cold unsalted butter
plus extra flour for dusting work surface

Mixing the Dough:
Check the capacity of your food processor before you start. If it cannot hold the full quantity of ingredients, make the dough into two batches and combine them.

Put the all-purpose flour, cake flour, and salt in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse a couple of times just to mix. Add the water all at once, pulsing until the dough forms a ball on the blade. The dough will be very moist and pliable and will hold together when squeezed between your fingers. (Actually, it will feel like Play-Doh.)

Remove the dough from the machine, form it into a ball, with a small sharp knife, slash the top in a tic-tac-toe pattern. Wrap the dough in a damp towel and refrigerate for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the butter between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and beat it with a rolling pin until it flattens into a square that's about 1" thick. Take care that the butter remains cool and firm: if it has softened or become oily, chill it before continuing.

Incorporating the Butter:
Unwrap the dough and place it on a work surface dusted with all-purpose flour (A cool piece of marble is the ideal surface for puff pastry) with your rolling pin (preferably a French rolling pin without handles), press on the dough to flatten it and then roll it into a 10" square. Keep the top and bottom of the dough well floured to prevent sticking and lift the dough and move it around frequently. Starting from the center of the square, roll out over each corner to create a thick center pad with "ears," or flaps.

Place the cold butter in the middle of the dough and fold the ears over the butter, stretching them as needed so that they overlap slightly and encase the butter completely. (If you have to stretch the dough, stretch it from all over; don't just pull the ends) you should now have a package that is 8" square.

To make great puff pastry, it is important to keep the dough cold at all times. There are specified times for chilling the dough, but if your room is warm, or you work slowly, or you find that for no particular reason the butter starts to ooze out of the pastry, cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate it . You can stop at any point in the process and continue at your convenience or when the dough is properly chilled.

Making the Turns:
Gently but firmly press the rolling pin against the top and bottom edges of the square (this will help keep it square). Then, keeping the work surface and the top of the dough well floured to prevent sticking, roll the dough into a rectangle that is three times as long as the square you started with, about 24" (don't worry about the width of the rectangle: if you get the 24", everything else will work itself out.) With this first roll, it is particularly important that the butter be rolled evenly along the length and width of the rectangle; check when you start rolling that the butter is moving along well, and roll a bit harder or more evenly, if necessary, to get a smooth, even dough-butter sandwich (use your arm-strength!).

With a pastry brush, brush off the excess flour from the top of the dough, and fold the rectangle up from the bottom and down from the top in thirds, like a business letter, brushing off the excess flour. You have completed one turn.

Rotate the dough so that the closed fold is to your left, like the spine of a book. Repeat the rolling and folding process, rolling the dough to a length of 24" and then folding it in thirds. This is the second turn.

Chilling the Dough:
If the dough is still cool and no butter is oozing out, you can give the dough another two turns now. If the condition of the dough is iffy, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes. Each time you refrigerate the dough, mark the number of turns you've completed by indenting the dough with your fingertips. It is best to refrigerate the dough for 30 to 60 minutes between each set of two turns.

The total number of turns needed is six. If you prefer, you can give the dough just four turns now, chill it overnight, and do the last two turns the next day. Puff pastry is extremely flexible in this regard. However, no matter how you arrange your schedule, you should plan to chill the dough for at least an hour before cutting or shaping it.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Chat Thai, Haymarket

Move over Mamak, Chat Thai is now my favourite place for late night supper. Why? Five words: Freshly made deep fried dough. With coconut custard. Interested? Read on, more about that later.

A teaser shot...
I've wanted to try Chat Thai for a really long time now. I've only ever heard great things about them, now with a chain of four stores around Sydney. All of a sudden my brother was raving constantly about the late night supper at Chat Thai, which only starts after 9.30pm and goes until 2am in the morning. I demanded he take me with him the next time they planned to go. Nevermind that I had work the next morning, I was determined to find out what all the fuss was about, so we arrived at the door of their Haymarket restaurant at 9.30pm.

Chat Thai's grilled skewers

There was a line (apparently there's almost always a line), which meant a 15 minute wait, but it wasn't too bad since it gave me an opportunity to oggle at the open kitchen at the front of the store. Similar to Mamak's glassed display of roti men, Chat Thai have people grilling meat and skewers, deep frying delicious things in a huuuuge wok of hot oil and preparing desserts. It makes my mouth water in anticipation.

The restaurant is slick and (this is the only word that comes to mind) incredibly cool. There's a mid-level balcony full of tables and we get seated up there. It's a bit freaky being able to look almost straight down and see someone sitting below you. Supper is meant to start at 9pm, but we are given dinner menus and have to ask for the supper ones instead. I look at my brother curiously and he tell me, "They only have the deep fried dough in the supper menu". Ahh.

I get incredibly excited and completely overwhelmed as I flick through the menu. It is just It's a gorgeous and amazingly well put-together menu, with stunning photos and wayyy too many dishes to choose from. I can't take it all in at once and just nod and let my brother do the ordering. I notice they have even put the recipe for their famous fried dough sticks, also known as par tuhng go, at the back of their menu. Just in case you weren't 100% sure that they make it on the premises!

Chat Thai's par tuhng go recipe

I I game to try the recipe myself at home? I'm scared of deep frying!

L-R: Kaffe yen - Iced coffee with caramelised milk, cha dum yen - sweet iced tea, cha nohm - sweet iced tea with caramelised milk (all $3.50)

First up is the drinks. The thing I love about Malaysian/Thai/Vietnamese places are the fantastic drinks that they offer. We order the Thai coffee and red tea. Both come with or without sweetened condensed milk, my favourite, and they are all so wonderful to sip at. The coffee is very milk without the smallest hint of bitterness. The tea is a beautiful deep red colour, which turns a bright neon orange when condensed milk is added to it. It's strong, fragrant and I could finish the whole glass in one gulp. I actually prefer the tea without the milk, as it gets a little too sweet with the milk.

Fresh spring rolls ($10.00) - Smoked fish sausages, shredded poached chicken, cucumbers and shallots wrapped in fresh rice paper. Dressed with a sweet tamarind sauce.
You might notice the above photo was taken during the day, because I got the chance to return for a lunch here with Karen & Lisa after we had a failed attempt to have lunch at Mamak (they close at 2.30pm, WHY???). So if I seem to skip between lunch and supper references, I hope it's not too confusing, but all the dishes I tried were definitely available on the supper menu. Anyway, back to the spring rolls. It's a wonderfully fresh and light dish, it reminds me of Malaysian popiah with the shredded meat and vegetables, but instead of a crispy fried wrapping, it has a super thin rice paper roll around it. The sauce is thick and sweet and the perfect complement.

Khanom Jeeb ($5 for 4 pcs)- Steamed wanton dumplings, filling of chicken and prawns.
The girls also wanted to try the steamed dumplings, which I was more than happy to do since I didn't get to try it the first time I went. They were plump and juicy and the dipping sauce was similar to the spring roll sauce. Tasty, though I usually save my dumpling consumption for Shanghainese places. I do like how it shows that Chat Thai's menu accomodates everyone's tastes.

Mu Bhing ($2.00 each) - Skewered and char grilled lean pork marinated in galangal, lemongrass and garlic accompanied with nahm jim jeaw (a mild spicy relish of ground rice, roasted chillies, palm sugar, tamarind and a hint of tomatoes)
The pork skewers are so tasty, and you understand why they've placed the grill at the very front of the store, they can be proud of their grilled meat. The pork is moist and tender with that perfect kiss of charred flavour from the grill and a strong hint of lemongrass and garlic. The dipping sauce is fiery, definitely one to be had in small doses for those who aren't used to the heat. Being a chilli fiend, I was drowning my pork in this sauce.

Gai Satay ($2.00 each) - Skewered and char grilled chicken fillets marinated in garlic, turmeric and coriander roots. Accompanied with peanut sauce and salsa of pickled cucumber and red onions
I couldn't have the satay since it was drowned in peanut sauce, but everyone else at the table murmured in approval of these. This was no easy feat, we were all Malaysians who get rather snobby about our satay, but apparently this was a very decent one and the peanut sauce was full of chunky peanuts. My brother said it almost tasted as good as my Mum's famous homemade peanut sauce.

Loug Chin Ping ($2.00) - Grilled skewered pork balls served with nahm jim - a sweet chilli and sour plum sauce
I didn't get much of a taste of the pork balls but they looked nice enough. I don't usually get too excited about beef/pork/fish balls, though these had a great flavour from what I can remember, and a light, spicy sauce.

Pad Cha Pbla Gaia ($15.00) - Fish paste dumplings stir fried with spicy wild ginger, holy basil, long red chillies, apple eggplants and fresh green peppercorns
This was meant to be supper, but my brother insisted on getting this main-sized dish for me to try. This was the reason why Thai food is so excited. This dish was packed full of big, loud flavours, each of them easily distinguishable from each other, but somehow working together harmoniously to get you excited about every single mouthful. The soft pieces of fish paste were matched with all that chilli, basil and (my favourite) fresh green peppercorns. A peppercorn popping in your mouth was intense but so good when you had a bit of everything together.

Ohh yes, so much deep fried goodness...
Okay, I think I've made you wait long enough. This is what we were here for. Pillows of fluffy dough, deep fried in a huge wok of oil at the front of the restaurant for everyone to see. They arrive at our table, fresh out of the wok and so perfectly golden and crispy. They smelt SO GOOD. As you might have seen on Lorraine's post, this is the kind of thing that gets me excited. In. The. Pants.

Par Tuhng Go ($6.90)- Pillowy flash-fried dough sticks with sangkaya - a coconut milk custard made with jus extracted from fresh pandan leaves
What's so different about the dough that they serve here? Yes it's the same as the versions they sell at Chinese restaurants, known as yu tiaou or yau ja gwai, but those places usually buy these pre-fried and then re-fry them, which makes them super oily and a bit chewy and hard. These are made fresh and it makes ALL the difference. The exterior has a perfectly thin, crisp, golden brown layer which hides the airy, fluffy soft dough on the insides. Even better, at Chat Thai they serve it with sangkaya, a coconut milk custard tinted green with pandan juice. It's like Malaysian kaya, but possibly even better (*gasp*)

The almost savoury fried dough is the perfect partner for this sweet & creamy custard. It's orgasmically good. Sorry about the pornographic description but it really is that good! It's 10.30pm by this point (they don't start to fire up the wok for the dough until around 9.30ish), a bit late for pigging out, but I can't stop myself from scoffing down two of these pieces fried perfection. Our eyes were a little bigger than our stomachs, ordering two of the portions that you see in the picture above, and we are defeated about halfway into it as the dough slowly starts to expand in our stomachs and makes us feel ill. It is so worth it though. It's such a shame that they only serve it during their supper hours, I will have to force myself to eat out later just so I can come back for this!

Banana fritters ($6.00) - fried lady finger bananas coated in a glutinous rice, coconut milk and sesame seed batter

While enjoying lunch with the girls, we couldn't resist checking out the dessert menu. Unfortunately they only had a few of their dessert options on offer, so we picked the banana fritters. I misread the menu when reading it, thinking that the fritters would come with a side of sticky rice, but it was actually just the battered bananas on their own. They weren't bad, though they were very oily and a bit hard and the sesame seeds were a bit overpowering. Might have been better if it came with some ice cream maybe?

Sticky rice with a coconut custard
Finally, our supper finished with another amazing dessert. Unfortunately I forgot to check the name and price for this dish, but it was basically a coconut flavoured sticky rice with two pieces of baked coconut custard on top. It was sweet but not too sweet, and a fantastic mix of textures. We were so full but we couldn't stop grabbing extra spoonfuls of this.

Chat Thai is exciting and fun with an amazing menu. Though I haven't had a chance to try their dinner menu, most of their signature dishes are available throughout the day and are up on their website. But I would definitely recommend their supper menu if you are out late in the city, if only for the par tuhng go. It was so freakin good, I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since and I'm so glad to find more and more late night spots in Sydney. The lines and the waiting is about the same as Mamak, it will be pretty long on the weekends. But if you have the patience, you will be rewarded.

Chat Thai (Haymarket)

20 Campbell St

Haymarket NSW 2000

(02) 9211 1808


Lunch: 10am-5pm

Dinner: 5pm-10pm

Supper: 9.30-2am

Chat Thai on Urbanspoon
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