River Kwai

It’s amazing how perceptions change over time as we broaden our food horizons. Perceptions change on the quality of the food, service and the price. From our latest experience at River Kwai, it was the latter. Helen and I had eaten here many many years ago, at a time when a $20 meal felt expensive us. Therefore it was no surprise that we had thought River Kwai was beyond pricey, especially for a restaurant located in Clayton. As it turns out, fate would bring us back here again. It felt like a weight had been lifted off our shoulders this time, because our thoughts on food prices has changed, and we were able to enjoy this restaurant for what it is!

Our vague memories of River Kwai were that they had good food, but in saying so, what we thought was good food back then could be a very different story now. Luckily the food is still top notch! We were greeted with some complimentary prawn crackers with peanut dipping sauce. Don’t be mistaken that these are your average Chinese takeaway prawn crackers, the ones they had here were next level! Huge prawn flavour explosion in the mouth with the sweetness of the peanut sauce to round it up, definitely the best I’ve had. Then it was onto the paid goods…

We started off with the beef curry puff and was not disappointed. The beef was flavoured beautifully and the pastry was loose and crispy. The chicken Tom Yum soup followed and the acidic to sweet balance was perfect. I personally could have done with more spice, but it was perfect for Helen. All hyped up from the entrees, we were eager to dive into the mains.

The mains we ordered were the prawn Pad Thai, Gang Phet Ped Yang (duck red curry) and the Pla Neung Manow (steamed whole barramundi). If you’ve read my other reviews, you’ll know that I’m a sucker for Pad Thai! If it’s on the menu, I’m usually getting it. This one from River Kwai was awesome! The ingredients were fresh and it wasn’t overly sweet like a lot I’ve had in the past. Just look at how fresh those bean shoots look in the photo! The duck red curry was just as good, the snow peas were still crunchy and the curry itself had great smoothness and consistency. This curry went really well with the Pad Thai, but next time I’ll get some coconut rice too to see which I prefer.

And now it’s time for the dish we were most excited about…. the steamed barramundi! Sadly all good things must come to an end.. *sigh*. Dammit! We were nearly there… I had not given 5/5 in a long time and the barramundi was the last hurdle. Unfortunately the steamed barramundi was not very good at all. The sauce was way too sweet for my liking, and the barramundi itself was not that fresh. The fish was missing that bouncy texture which fresh barramundi gives, and my suspicions were that the fish may have been frozen for too long.

Such a shame, it was almost the perfect meal. 5 great dishes out of 6 is still a ratio most restaurants can only dream of. Would we come back? You bet we will. River Kwai is easily the best Thai restaurant in the area. The crazy thing is that we felt the prices were really reasonable this time. Let this be a lesson to y’all… never eat at any restaurant where you’d be uncomfortable with the prices. This will not only affect your whole dining experience, but it can also make you not appreciate a great restaurant.

River Kwai
Approx $40 AUD per person
Address: 3/1310 Centre Rd, Clayton South VIC 3169
Phone: +61 3 9545 5688
Website: riverkwai.com.au

River Kwai Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Rock Sugar

We were recently invited to dine at Rock Sugar, located in South Yarra and were happy to accept given the hype we’ve been hearing about it. Upon entering we were instantly welcomed with pink neon lights and Britney Spears – Stronger playing in the background. Those two nostalgic factors alone won me over! Loved the vibe and I’ve always been a R&B girl at heart.

We were seated at a spacious table that juts out from the bar and started off with ordering a couple of their recommended Rocktails. Davin ordered the Elderflower Power which had gin, elderflower, mint, yuzu and butterfly pea flower. I ordered the ‘Chee ‘Chee Martini which had lychee, vodka and sake. Both drinks were delicious and presented beautifully.

Now if you’re looking for authentic Thai cuisine then this is not the place for you because it’s Thai fusion and you need to embrace it! We were overwhelmed with all the great dishes on the menu. We also noted that all peanut ingredients were bolded in the menu which I thought was a great idea. For those who may have allergies, they can easily spot the dishes to avoid.

For starters we ended up ordering a few dishes which included the spiced thai tuna tartare, sriracha butter corn on the cob, smoked ocean trout betel leaf, and the hiramasa kingfish. The raw dishes were fresh and SO appetising! They were modern dishes but the Thai flavours that you know well such as lime, fish sauce and chilli still shined through each of them. The corn on the cob was delicious and you could really taste the sriracha with every bite.

For mains we ordered the red curry with a duck leg, pineapple, young bamboo, snake bean and asparagus. The flavours of the red curry was spot on, the vegetables were still crunchy and just the way we like it. We’ve never had asparagus before in a Thai curry so that was new for us. We could have done with a bit more duck than just the leg because we felt like there wasn’t much meat to share. Other than that it was a lovely dish.

We also ordered the pork belly as the second main to share. The pork itself had pretty much over 70% of that lovely melt in your mouth fat. The combination of that and the nam prik hot sauce went well together.

After all that we decided to share one dessert between us and ordered the Mango Tango which included coconut panna cotta with peanut and almond cookie crumble. This was a beautifully presented dish and so easy to eat. It was light and wasn’t too sweet. We loved it and it was the perfect finish to a great meal!

Overall we loved their interesting, Thai fusion dishes and the vibe of the restaurant itself. Highly recommend if you’re looking for some great food and drinks that may be a bit different to what you’re normally used to.

Rock Sugar
Approx $50 AUD per person
Address: 477 Malvern Rd, South Yarra VIC 3141
Phone: +61 3 9826 2688
Website: rocksugar.com.au

Rock Sugar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Piano

The Piano is a contemporary Thai restaurant situated on Bridge Road, Richmond. We found these guys based purely on the fact that we were craving for fish! For some reason, one weekend we found ourselves starving at 5:30PM. We knew there were a lot of Vietnamese/Thai restaurants in Richmond who were capable of serving up a mean dish of fish. Which one were we going to? We had no idea. So we literally drove to Richmond, parked the car and started looking for restaurants. We found The Piano because they had a steamed barramundi on their menu, perfect for a Melbourne winter night!

We arrived at the Piano all smiles, but the waitress managed to wipe that off in about 5 mins. NO BARRAMUNDI! I looked at the time and it was only 6:30PM! It’s always been puzzling to me how restaurants can not have something right near their opening times. She offered to replace the barramundi with salmon, what choice did I have? We agreed on the salmon. Helen and I decided to drown our barramundi sorrows with some cocktails, which just happened to be $10 each because we it was happy hour.

We decided to get a dry martini and espresso martini. The waitress informed me that it was going to be an extra 10min wait because they needed to turn on their coffee machine. In my head I was thinking ‘yeah whatever, I’ve lost my barramundi already’. What proceeded was quite possibly the two worst cocktails we’ve ever had! The dry martini had a weird sourness to it, and the espresso martini was way too sweet. This happy hour was turning to be not very happy at all. Just as we were mumbling to ourselves how crap the cocktails were, the waitress came back out and told us that it was going to be a 30min extra wait on the confit duck, because they needed time to slow cook it! At this point I was about to flip the damn table and walk out! Fortunately for them, the waitress was extremely nice and apologetic, otherwise I would have put a $20 note on the table and walked out. I couldn’t remember a time where we hit this many roadblocks before any food even hit the table.

As it turns out, there was light at the end of the tunnel. The food here was absolutely impeccable. The Penang chicken curry was one of the best curries I’ve ever had. It had great flavours with a smooth creamy texture, and went beautifully with the coconut rice. I soon forgot about the barramundi because the salmon was cooked wonderfully. Salmon is unforgiving in the sense that it gets tough as soon as it’s a bit overcooked. The ginger broth was delicate yet flavourful, the mushroom, baby corn and spring onion all doing their part to compliment it. We couldn’t stop sipping on the broth, it was deeeeeelicious! The stir fry beef was an angry order because of the confit duck, I didn’t even realise I ordered it until it was placed on our table. Whilst it wasn’t as good as the other two dishes, it was still nice and I couldn’t fault it.

Well there you have it peeps, after a horrid start, The Piano finished on a positive note. The experience as a whole was mediocre, but the food was legit here. I feel as though there’s room for improvement with their stock management and also their drink mixing. It wasn’t worth getting a cocktail here for even $10, as they’re simply horrible. I’d be happy to come back purely for their food, but even then it feels like I’m dodging bullets in order to get the dishes I want. I’m conflicted, so I’ll leave the decision up to you guys for this one!

The Piano
Approx $35 AUD per person
Address: 18-20 Bridge Rd, Richmond VIC 3121
Phone: +61 3 9428 9385
Website: thepiano.com.au

The Piano Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Jinda Thai

It’s always nice to meet up with some fellow food lovers for dinner, because there’s nothing better than enjoying great food together in each others company. We caught up with Bearabbit, Feeds with Gusto and Tim.E, and the restaurant of choice was Jinda Thai. It was our first time here, and what a great choice it was from Feeds with Gusto!

The atmosphere at Jinda Thai was buzzing from start to finish. The interior is like an old warehouse with brick walls. Helen and I quickly shot gunned some couch spots, as the massive hole in the chair was not gonna do our backs any good. Equipped with 3 bottles of BYO red, being ‘hydrated’ was not an issue, but it was the food which we were most interested in.

After what seemed like some short chatter, we were inundated with food! It’s nice to not have to make all the food decisions sometimes, and have others pick dishes. We ordered so much food, and let me tell you, they were all solid! I couldn’t fault any of them, but there were a few which really stood out for me. I particularly enjoyed the chicken Pad Thai, steamed fish with chilli garlic dressing, and pandan cake with ice cream.

I’m a sucker for a great Pad Thai, funny enough I never even tried Pad Thai in Thailand and had only started enjoying this dish over the last 5 years. It’s probably the least Thai dish on the menu, but when has that ever stopped me from wanting it! This Pad Thai was not lacking in flavour and had a decent punch to it. The sweetness was perfect and the lime juice on top was just the icing on the cake. My friend sought out a Thai cook on Gumtree to make Pad Thai for his birthday party. I would say her Pad Thai and the one I’ve had at Jinda Thai were probably the best I’ve ever tried.

In my reviews I very rarely mention authenticity. I’ve never mentioned this before, but I don’t consider authenticity important to how I judge how good food is. To me, good food is good food, irrespective of how authentic a dish is. Now in saying so, I think that the strongest argument for authentic food is the memories it brings back. This statement could not be more true when it comes to the steamed fish I had here at Jinda Thai. As soon as I had the first bite, it took me back to the steamed fishes I had in Thailand. The acidity and chilli hit was relentless and this was the flavour profile which I’ve been looking for! The fish was fresh, and not overcooked. A highlight dish in every sense of the word.

To finish off with the pandan cake with ice cream was so soothing. After all the full flavoured savoury dishes, it was nice to retreat back to a quality dessert. The pandan sauce was not too sweet at all, and worked well with the soft silky cake underneath. I’m not usually a fan of pandan, but now I’ve been converted and will seek out more pandan cakes in the future. It even comes with two scoops of ice cream, not a bad deal for $8.50!

Great food and great company, what more could we have asked for. It was a great night, and I’m happy to have dined at Jinda Thai. It was a restaurant which had been on my radar for a long time now, and the food met and exceeded my expectations! Without a doubt we’ll be keeping these guys in mind whenever we feel like great Thai food. I would highly recommend them to anyone. Don’t make the same mistake as me, I’ve waited way too long to try this place, check these guys out ASAP!

Jinda Thai
Approx $45 AUD per person
Address: 7 Ferguson Street, Abbotsford VIC 3067
Phone: (03) 9419 5899

Jinda Thai Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Moonlight Thai Restaurant

I guess it’s never a good sign when you show up to a restaurant at dinner time and the restaurant is empty. Granted, it was a week night so you wouldn’t expect a full house but still… we obviously ignored the first alarm bell and proceeded into the spacious yet very empty restaurant.

Don’t ask us how we found Moonlight, a Thai restaurant. I think we may have just done a search for places nearby and thought we would give it a go! Anyway as I mentioned, the restaurant was very spacious with plenty of tables. It was also very modern and clean.

Staff were very friendly and seated us then provided us with extensive menus. We ordered a few dishes to share which included the fried rice, red duck curry and the charcoal grilled chicken. The food was very underwhelming. The fried rice was just okay, the red duck curry didn’t really look like a red duck curry as the curry sauce was darker than usual. It also didn’t taste the best. The charcoal grilled chicken looked dry when it was served, and tasted dry too. Unfortunately we didn’t have a very good food experience there which is a shame as the staff were nice and the restaurant itself looked promising when we walked in. It’s safe to say we probably won’t be returning.

Moonlight Thai Restaurant
Approx $25 AUD per person
Address: 1200 Centre Rd, Clarinda VIC 3169
Phone: +51 3 9544 8707

Moonlight Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saab Der Thai

We do love Thai cuisine however haven’t had a fantastic experience with Thai restaurants in Springvale in the past. Unfortunately on this occasion it was no different.

Saab Der Thai is located in the heart of Springvale and is a small takeaway style shop with tables for eating in.

We got the Thai iced milk tea which was actually pretty good because it wasn’t overly sweet. It had a good tea flavour to it so I liked it.

Because there were a number of us, we decided to order a variety of dishes for sharing. This included the chicken satay sticks, Pad Thai noodles, red curry with chicken, green curry with beef, pineapple fried rice, tom yum soup and a couple of salads.

The chicken satay sticks were nice, the meat was tender however the sauce that came with it was not the usual satay sauce. Both the red curries and the green curries were not that great. They were very watery and the meats in it was quite tough and far from tender. The Pad Thai noodles and pineapple fried rice were also just okay. The Pad Thai noodles were flavoured, however the fried rice was quite dry and a tad plain.

The salads were nice and had a good chilli kick to it. The tom yum soup was average and not very special.

Overall, we probably wouldn’t recommend this place if you were in the mood for Thai. The main dishes were a let down and you could definitely find better quality elsewhere. However if you’re desperate for cheap Thai and in the area, it might be more for convenience.

Sabb Der Thai and Esan Food
Approx $25 AUD per person
Address: Unit 1/1-3 St Johns Ave, Springvale VIC 3171
Phone: +61 3 9546 0599

Sabb Der Thai Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato