We have been intending to try Chang Thai for some time, and were delighted to be invited there by friends recently. Our general impression was favourable from most points of view, and so it was with enthusiasm that we returned a week or so later to review it – this time with a guest who has lived in Thailand and knows her onions.
The restaurant is at 83 Churchill Avenue, and is an ordinary northern suburbs house. Seating is inside, on the verandah, or in the garden, and please don’t even consider going without booking – on both occasions we went, it was packed. We were welcomed and seated inside which is cosy and comfortable. Drinks and menus arrived promptly – and we were also warned that as everything is cooked to order, there might be a delay on main courses.
Starters – priced between $3 and $8 per portion – came promptly and were delicious. Thai vegetable spring rolls, chicken Laab and Num Neau – a spiced grilled beef salad. Our Thai expert said that she is used to the vegetables being grated or at least chopped smaller, and would have liked more sauce, but that the taste was excellent. The rest of us had no such criticisms. The laab – minced chicken marinated in lime juice, fish sauce, chilli and herbs was so good that I almost ordered it again as a main. The spring rolls – so much more subtle that their Chinese cousins – were succulent and satisfying.
Having been warned of a delay, there was in fact none and the mains arrived shortly after.
We ordered three curries – a Panang Chicken, Mussaman Beef, and Red Thai fish curry, each accompanied by steamed rice. We also had Phad Nom Mun Hoi – oyster sauce stir fry with prawns. As we were feeling particularly greedy we added Phad Thai Vegetables – stir fried rice noodles with vegetables. (Despite four healthy appetites, this was far too much food for the evening and the left-overs afforded a pretty good lunch the next day.) The prawn stir-fry lived up to its promise – moist luscious prawns with deliciously, scarcely-cooked vegetables. The curries were equally good. If we are to be very picky – which is, after all, the purpose of the exercise – the Mussaman wasn’t quite hot (chilli) enough and the flavours were all somewhat similar. But as these flavours were utterly delectable, I for one was not complaining. The Phad Thai was also good. As one of our guests remarked “Nothing that has been ordered for this table has been a disappointment.” We all agreed that a we would be back. I would love to try the various duck options – a little more pricey at $22 a dish. The mains that we chose were between $13 and $18.
Although we were all thoroughly replete, we pondered the pudding menu, and there amongst the ice-creams with sauces various and deep fried bananas, our guest was excited to see Sticky Rice and Mango, apparently her all time favourite. Being full to busting, we ordered one portion and 4 spoons. Now I don’t know what sticky rice and mango is supposed to taste like but according to our expert it was not right. It certainly didn’t taste like anything special to me.
So we had eight fine dishes – and one dud. Nobody appeared to mind. We finished off a most enjoyable evening with coffees. With plenty to drink and an ample tip the bill was just over $30 a head.
Anyone who enjoys deliciously freshly cooked food with a little – or lot of – spice will love this restaurant.
I award it 3.5 stars for food, hospitality, service and ambiance.