Everyone knows how much I love food and while there are so many world cuisines I crave and adore; my love of Thailand and its food is large. Seriously, I love every sweet, salty, spicy, sour morsel almost as much as I love my mum. Maybe even more. (Just kidding, Mum). And while I’ve been lucky enough to shovel Thai food down my copious gob all around the world, from Brisbane to Bangkok, my favourite is still Chat Thai, right here in Sydney. In fact, I need a frequent eater card for Chat Thai Gateway at Circular Quay, because I am obsessed with their take on Thai!
It’s not just because the food at Chat Thai is great, though it is. It’s because they offer a whole bunch of unique dishes while still offering classics like Padt Thai and Green Curry, though they elevate them to a whole other level. It’s also down to the super nice staff, especially Head Chef Oat, who is a legend.
Before I tell you about the food, I have to tell you about Chef Oat, because he’s really inspiring to me. Chef Oat started cooking at a really young age with his mum and grandma, preparing and helping them in the kitchen, just like I do with my mum. When his family had some financial difficulty, his mother had to work two jobs, as a teacher, and a cook, so Chef Oat would go to the market after school to buy the food for her, and became his mother’s kitchen hand, preparing food and cooking food for sale alongside her for almost ten years.
When he finished college in Thailand, he started work in the agricultural chemical industry and knew that it wasn’t for him returning to his first love, cooking! He attended a cookery school and started cooking for a small income. During breaks, he would study cook books at books stores, then started to practice by himself, learned from his own mistakes and from other chefs, whether they were more or less experienced than him. He still loves to learn.
Chef Oat told me not to be afraid to ask what you don’t know. Which I reckon is pretty awesome advice for anyone! But what I love best is that he says, “Every time I cook, I feel like there’s music inside my head, because I really enjoy cooking.”
And you know what? That’s exactly how I feel when I’m eating! So, I totally get it!
Chef Oat also told me that the most popular dish on the menu at Chat Thai Gateway is Padt Thai, because they we really care about the ingredients and make sure it tastes authentic.
They even grow some of the harder to find Thai ingredients at their Boon Luck Farm in Byron Bay. Chef Oat’s favourite dish though is padt kaprao gaI sub, a stir-fried chicken dish with Thai basil and a fried egg on top, served with steamed jasmine rice.
While I can attest that both are delicious, and you can even learn to make them, just like him, right here, thanks to the Tourism Authority of Thailand, they’re just a few of my personal Chat Thai faves.
Seriously, I could legit eat my way dish by dish through their menu every day of the week, because it is ALL good, but I always start with their crispy crab fried spring rolls, filled with wads of crab meat, egg and soft green herbs.
I also really like the kuay kreab pak mor (steamed tapioca rice dumplings stuffed with dried shrimp, chicken and pickled turnip and served with a fermented chilli sauce) because there is no such thing as a dumpling I won’t devour. While these are not that well known here in Australia, I reckon they should be definitely added to your order.
On to the mains where there are several standouts. Gaeng Pu is a yellow curry of crab meat which I would happily swim in. This spicy soupy curry is packed with pillows of crab meat and served with soft rice vermicelli. Gaeng Daeng Bped, is a luscious red curry of five spice roast duck with pineapple, lychee and Thai basil. And then there’s Mhu Grob Padt Prik Khing, crisp pork belly stir-fried with wild ginger in a hot and spicy red curry paste that makes my tastebuds dance.
Of course, we can’t leave until I’ve devoured a big plate of sticky rice with mango. The combination of the sweet, sticky, pandan-infused rice with salty coconut cream and fresh cut mango is the perfect finale!
And while Chef Oat told me that if someone gave him $1000 to eat one meal in Thailand he would go to Michelin-starred Sorn in Bangkok, I’d just save it to come back to Chat Thai, and order absolutely everything! If only they offered massages…
Reviewed by Raffles – Aged 12