Melbournians are spoilt for choice when it comes to good restaurants, so it’s easy to seek out top quality Thai, even when you don’t want to pay top dollar. Here are our picks of the top 10 Thai places in the city.
Elegant and sophisticated are not words you often associate with Thai food, and that’s what makes Longrain, so special. Its sexy dining space is set up for group dining and the exquisite dishes are large and meant for sharing. The kitchen offers a modern take on classic Thai flavours, showcasing the very best of Australian produce. Our go-to dish is the betel leaves stuffed with sashimi trout.
If an American diner hit Bangkok, this is what it’d look like. Colonel Tan’s is set upstairs in Prahran’s sprawling multi-arts venue, Revolver. It’s a cooly casual joint, with low-hanging chandeliers throw orange light onto 70’s decor and retro plastic tablecloths. Must try dishes include the Bangkok bolognaise, Tofu “whopper”and one for the Colonel, five spice fried chicken. Despite its reputation with Melbourne’s trendy set, you can have lunch for under $20 here.
The cavernous warehouse space that is Jina Thai is softened by cute little quirks that welcome you in and invite you to stay: Grandma Jinda’s portrait, low hanging, golden lanterns and the “pinky milky”, which will catapult you back to your childhood days of slurping down strawberry Quik. Everything here, from traditional pad Thai to the the soft shell crab on green papaya salad is fresh, authentic and inexpensive.
Let’s face it, Thai food should be fun and you’d be hard pressed to find a restaurant that encourages a laugh more than Chin Chin. The dishes that come out of the kitchen are seriously stylish, but that’s where the formal dining conventions end - the staff don’t wear uniforms and the space doubles as a contemporary art gallery for moving images. There’s a menu bursting with adventurous pan-Asian share dishes and if you can’t decide what to order, give the wait staff a wink and say, “Feed me!” and a multi course selection of the chef’s best dishes will appear before you.
Ok, so it’s not strictly Thai, but the south east Asian dishes here carry the signature Vietnamese and Thai style of ex BangPop Chef Kam McManamey. Hover at the standing-room bar or take a seat in the always-packed restaurant for an exotic culinary treat.
If you like your Thai to deliver a smack to your palette (in a good way), Nine Elephants is for you. There’s no watering things down for western tastes here (unless you ask the kitchen to) everything is prepared with traditionally, demonstrating that flavour and heat aren’t mutually exclusive. Find it around the corner from Etihad Stadium.
Visualise your favourite Thai flavours; crispy soft shell crab, citrusy Asian slaw, lemongrass marinated meats. Now picture these ingredients wedged in a deliciously soft brioche bun. It’s a match made in foodie heaven. We call them guilt-free burgers and you’ll find them at takeaway joint, Thaiger, wrapped in the cutest fast food packaging we’ve ever seen.
Mr nice guy wants to be good to your diet. Forget white rice, sauces loaded with sugar and oily noodles. Lunchtime here is about brown rice and roasted veggies, perfect for the tempestuous Melbourne weather. The dinnertime menu is designed for sharing, with Thai-Euro fusion food, where the likes of risotto and cheesecake have been Thai-fied. Signature dishes include succulent pork belly seasoned with cinnamon and star anise and crispy, triple cooked whole chicken.
The bakery best known for their tarts with jet-black pastry shells filled with silky Eurasian fillings are bringing more crazy-beautiful baked goods to Carlton. Nora offers a whole menu of punchy dishes showcasing southeast Asian flavours and Western techniques and ingredients. Go for the house-baked sourdough, and whatever’s on the constantly changing menu, paired with interesting teas.
If you’re looking for the kind of food you’ll find on the streets of Bangkok, Red Petite is the place to come. Sure, the pad Thai, the thai green curry is fresh, fast and authentic, but we’re going for dishes you can pick up with your hands, like Thai barbecued pork skewers and deep fried skinny chicken wings for a tasty, satisfying snack.