I rarely ever do restaurant reviews on this blog as there are so many other blogs that do it so much better. Not one to impose on already well trodden territory I steer away from reviews not only for the latter reason, but simply because I don't eat out nearly as often enough as other bloggers who do reviews. Oh yes, and I'm unable to take a decent photo inside a restaurant for the life of me.
Reviews in my opinion are so relative and mostly based on comparisons from previous experiences and tastes of certain cuisine. I don't think I have gathered enough food mileage to be able to be an expert in anything. But sometimes in a serendipitous, fluky way, you happen to have your camera when you go out for a casual lunch and next thing you know, you are taking a photo of ever dish.
I may not be an authority on most cuisines, but I think I have eaten at enough Thai restaurants and eateries to be able to gather an opinion about the food. And I have to say that although there's an abundance of Thai places in Sydney, the bad far outweighs the good. Thai cuisine is usually marked by its depth of flavour; the beautiful cohesion of taste sensations and textures. It's usually a splendid symphony of sweet, sour, spicy and herby, put together with such harmony. There simply are too many Thai restaurants serving bland and watered down versions of the real thing.
Simply put, when the menu says, "this dish is very spicy", I want the dish to deliver on its promise. I want it to be flaming hot enough for me to be able to breath fire afterwards. There are just too many renditions of seemingly spicy dishes that just aren't that spicy at all. If my brow isn't sweating, then you really haven't done your job. And I'm not even one of those people with high levels of tolerance for capsaicin.
Which brings me to Chat Thai. Chat Thai is a little bit of an anomaly, as in that even in the midst of a million other Thai eateries in that part of Pitt St which has been affectionately coined Thainatown, there is always a line of people outise waiting to get in, even at 11:30pm. Spoilt for choice in the midst of Thainatown, there is something about Chat Thai that people are willing to wait in line, outside, sometimes in the cold and rain.
Some say that it's usually the most dubious looking eateries that are the most authentic and the best priced, and to some extent this has been proved correct. This however cannot be further from the truth when it comes to Chat Thai. Although a handful of their dishes take a short detour from the original, the flavours are truly Thai at heart. And when they say spicy, they mean it.
The restaurant's interior can fool you, it doesn't look like a Thai restaurant that would serve traditional Thai fare, and serve it well. It looks more like an uppity bistro than an Asian eatery. But nothing could be further from the truth, it's just a plus that the place comes with soft mood-lighting, modern brown tables, rustic brick walls and to my surprise, friendly staff that make up for the wait you have to make for a table during peak hours, which can be up to an hour and a half.
To be honest, I cannot recall what we had that day. I was too engrossed in the eating part, that I forgot to remember the dishes for the blogging part. Hence the reason why I don't do reviews. All I remember is that there was a pad thai somewhere in the mix, a staple at any Thai place. And if they can't get a pad thai right, then there's really no point in wasting your time. But the heartening thing is their pad thai was good. Good enough that every last morsel was scraped off the plate.
So if anyone is in Sydney looking for a Thai place whose kitchen doesn't close at 10, then head over to Campbell St and put your name on the list for a table. If you come late enough, you won't have to wait that long. Chat Thai has several other locations around the city although I've only been to the one in Haymarket. Weirdly enough, it's the only one not featured on the website.
20 Campbell St
Haymarket, Sydney NSW
Phone: (02) 9211 1808
Open: 7 days 11am-2am