It’s a running joke in our house that every time I go to a new Thai Restaurant I declare it the best Thai ever. But when I say that about Paste Mittagong, I mean it. Seriously, I swear that the food at Paste is next level, transcending the laws of food physics and flavour. I can almost guarantee I will not be able to find a better Thai Restaurant in Australia (though I’m more than happy to try).
One of the best restaurants in the Southern Highlands, Paste Mittagong was recently opened by Chef Bee Satongun, the proud recipient of a Michelin star and the title of Asia’s Best Female Chef for her sister restaurant Paste Bangkok. And while historic Mittagong is known for its old-world charm, Paste’s minimalist, Nordic vibe has zapped a little pocket of modern-day magic in to its mix. And don’t even get me started on their cool reclining chairs.
Before we even start to peruse the menu, I know I am going to like it here at Paste Restaurant. The staff are lovely, and incredibly fun, and as well as having an extensive knowledge of the food they serve, they keep us giggling.
Chef Bee’s menu is her interpretation of Ancient Thai cuisine using traditional methods but modernised with Australian ingredients and clever combinations of flavour. As we navigate our way through the menu the dishes all sound so incredible I fear may brain may explode having to choose just a few. But with some wise recommendations from our funny and chatty waitress (and a few tips from my mum who had visited in the Paste’s opening weeks), decisions are made for a meal that leaves me singing.
At mum’s insistence, we start with the roasted duck with rice cracker, and I am so glad she did. These are crunchy, soft, fresh and absolutely sublime with layer upon layer of rich and yet delicate flavours of nutmeg, curry paste and sawtooth coriander working with the shredded duck to create perfect harmony on my tastebuds. I would be happy to order another six courses of these but instead ready myself for the rest of this exquisite meal.
We fight over the salads so end up with two fragrant, herbal masterpieces. The first is
a roasted duck salad that is zingy, herbal and light, yet still delivers the gamey, earthy punch of the perfectly cooked chunks of duck. The sweet hits of lychee round out the dish perfectly.
The second is a breathtaking tropical pomelo salad. Now, I’m already a huge fan of pomelo but when their subtle, citrusy pops of flavour are combined with succulent slabs of slipper lobster, shredded betel leaves and a fresh chilli and herb dressing, you know I’m going to lick the fancy pants fine china plates clean, no matter how ill-mannered my mother tells me I am.
While we had planned on ordering their famous smoky southern crab curry, as it’s not on the menu today, we instead opt for a Penang chicken curry which was unlike any Penang curry I’ve tasted before.
The chicken practically leapt off the plate into my mouth. At least that’s what I told mum happened when I devoured it in a flash. You snooze, you lose, right? I reckon she would absolutely have loved the rich, earthy, almost floral flavours of the sauce and the beautifully moist chicken cooked on the bone. If only she was faster.
Our first slipper lobster was so good that greed overcame us and we decided on more, ordering a main of slipper lobster noodles in shell fish gravy.
This proved a worthy finale to our mains. The silky homemade egg noodles are bathed in a lusciously rich sauce of light soy sauce, chilli and pork stock and then topped with lobster in the shell. I cannot even begin to describe the awesomeness of this dish, which I have to say was a highlight of my meal.
Not quite finished with Paste Mittagong, we ordered dessert.
Chef Bee’s desserts are as incredible as her mains. A chocolate dome served with a tangy passion fruit gel as well as blood limes to add a pop of freshness to what for me is a delicious but fairly rich dessert.
But a light and lovely Thai tea mousse served with a crispy crumb and an assortment of berries was the perfect way to finish off the meal.
If Paste Bangkok is even half as good as it’s little Australian sister, I can see why it has a Michelin star under its belt. If they keep doing the things they’re doing here, I’m sure the Aussie equivalent (a Hat) will be on its way to Mittagong very soon.
This meal was independently paid for.
Reviewed by Raff – Aged 12
105 Main St,
PH: (02) 4872 2277