Home Thai is one of the many Thai eateries in town that offer an eclectic mix of Thai favourites, spanning the whole gamut of food offerings found in the Kingdom of Thailand - grilled fermented sausages from Chiangmai/Northeast region, to the spicy, crunchy som tum of Eastern Isaan province, and the steamed dumplings of Bangkok/Central region. It also happens to be one of the hardest-to-get-in eateries in Sydney - a no-reservations, first-come-first-served place with a queue of (mainly Thai) customers during the entire time it’s open.
If one doesn’t know what it feels like to sit cheek-by-jowl in a restaurant, come here. Somehow, I felt being crammed into a tight corner table and assailed on all sides by noise and chatter cramped our ability to order the food properly. So, our dinner spread this evening turned out to be as chaotic and disordered as how we felt.
Steamed pork dumplings (kanom jeeb muu) - this is really a Thai take on Chinese “siu mai” pork dumplings. They come drizzled with garlic oil and golden-fried chopped garlic, giving the dumplings a more Thai rather than Cantonese-Chinese appearance.
Tom yum goong - this is probably Thailand’s most famous food export, and Home Thai produced a pretty respectable version. It was surprisingly not too spicy (considering the fact that 90% of their clientele are Thai) so I did not end up looking like the Red Skull after having it.
Steamed pork-peanut dumplings (khao kriab pak mor) these were delicate, little steamed rice flour dumplings filled with caramelised pork & crushed peanuts, and were more sweet than savoury from the use of palm sugar for the filling. Half of the dumplings were tinted blue using the natural colours of the butterfly pea flower.
Stir-fried chicken with holy basil & chilis (pad kaprao gai) - stir-fried minced chicken with holy basil and bird’s eye chilis. This is a very popular street food in Bangkok, or anywhere in Thailand for that matter. The dish is usually robustly flavoured with lots of garlic, and seasoned with generous lashings of soy sauce, oyster sauce and the ubiquitous fish sauce (“nam pla”). Big handfuls of holy basil gives the dish its distinct aroma and taste, whilst the tiny, explosive bird’s eye chilis (“prik kee noo”) provided the heat. The Thais would add more chilis into the dish during the cooking phase in the colder monsoon months to “warm up their bodies” as they partake the dish.
Prawn cakes (tom mun goong) - these crisp, flavoursome prawn cakes get their flavour from the addition of red curry paste and coconut milk to chopped shrimp-meat. The ones here are crisp, but pretty greasy.
Stir-fried mixed vegetables (phad pak ruam mit) - one of those vegetarian dishes that appeals more to non-Thais/farang (as Thais would only eat this on religious occasions which require them to go vegetarian): a mix of long beans, baby corn, gai lan, white cabbage, black wood-ear fungus and glass noodles, topped with crisp golden-fried garlic.
Mango with sticky rice (khao niew ma muang) - tri-coloured sticky rice were served here, mainly for presentation purposes as they all tasted the same: blue (butterfly-pea flower), green (pandanus) and plain white. The sticky rice had been steamed with sweetened and slightly salted coconut milk - then topped with more coconut milk which had been thickened with cornflour, and sprinkled with crisp, pan-toasted yellow lentils. The fresh mangoes here weren’t especially sweet.
I do understand the attraction of Home Thai - it offers a wide plethora of Thai snacks, street food options, and casual eats, many dishes which one would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere in Sydney. Its cooking is robust and quick, and the kitchen works with an industrial line efficiency. Flavours are quite authentic on the most part, which is not surprising, as Sydney does have a sizeable Thai community, and Thai food has been an indelible part of Sydney’s dining scene for nearly 3 decades now, ever since David Thompson opened Darley Street Thai in Newtown back in 1991.
Shop 1/2, 299 Sussex Street
Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia
Tel: +61 2 9261 5058
Operating hours: 11am - 10.30pm