My birthday this year fell on a Monday. This is generally not an issue because I usually have a Chinese dinner banquet with my family and Chinese restaurants are open every day of the week. Unfortunately, my parents were overseas and it was decided that we would do my birthday dinner the day after. My attempts to find a restaurant for dinner with my boyfriend on the Monday were not promising to begin with. My first choice Thai restaurant was under new management and was closed on Mondays. My second choice Japanese restaurant was also closed on Mondays. Eventually, by virtue of it actually being open, we entered my third choice Khao Pla in Chatswood, and I have to say, I’m pretty glad we did.
There is some interesting fusion happening at this dark and casual Thai eatery. For one, the sounds of Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff were pumping through the speakers as we arrived. For another, as you might expect from a former Ms G. chef, there were some unusual food combinations and creations on the menu.
The staff here kindly inform you of the spiciness of the dishes, which was extremely helpful. I was on the verge of ordering the banana blossom salad, but the doubtful look on the waitress’s face as she told me it was, “quite hot!” convinced me and we went for the nashi pear salad instead, which we were assured was only mildly spicy. Let me tell you, my tongue and lips were burning after a few tastes of the salad dressing, so I am grateful to that waitress for talking us out of the “quite hot” salad! When I regained the use of my tastebuds, I found this dish to be a wonderful combination of flavours and textures, with the sweet strips of pear and tangy lime juice somewhat soothing the burn of the chilli. The crispy battered fish pieces and peanuts added crunch, however as the peanuts had mostly collected at the bottom of the bowl and were soaked in the salad dressing, it did make for an unexpected chilli hit.
I am obsessed with soft shell crab. If it’s on a menu, I’m going to be ordering it. In fact, my first choice Thai restaurant had the best soft shell crab dish I’d ever tasted and I will be forever disappointed that I learned of its closure on my birthday. The deep fried soft shell crab with Tom Yum spice salt at Khao Pla has an enjoyable crunch and good flavour, although I found it became increasingly salty as I plowed through the pieces.
The basil chicken, wok fried with chilli, bamboo shoots and holy basil, is one of the restaurant’s less interesting dishes and was pleasant, without being outstanding.
In a city full of Thai restaurants, Pad Thais are a dime a dozen. Good Pad Thais are slightly more difficult to find, but this one is great. The mountain of thin stir fried noodles, tossed with bean sprouts, chopped nuts and a generous helping of prawns, was well seasoned and full of flavour. Even my boyfriend, who is not a fan of noodles, enjoyed the dish and went back for multiple servings.
Four substantial dishes between the two of us left no room for dessert, but we will definitely be back to try some more of Khao Pla’s unique creations!
- Unusual and intriguing dishes mixed with traditional Thai classics at a very reasonable price
- Check the spiciness of the dishes before ordering them!
Shop 7, 370-374 Victoria Ave
Chatswood NSW 2067
T: (02) 9412 4978
W: Khao Pla
What is the spiciest food you have eaten? Leave a comment and let me know!