Melbourne’s come a long way in the Thai food stakes since the days of the bland green curry. Here are 10 of the best…
The Melbourne outpost of the Sydney original helped change the city’s Thai game and continues to rock 11 years on. Check out the new upstairs bar Longsong where ex-Franklin chef David Moyle is working a wood grill with Thai-inspired snacks on sticks.
40-44 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne; (03) 9653 1600
Image: Eugene Hyland
The one Thai hawker hall to rule them all, this always-buzzing Flinders Lane behemoth packs in the crowds for a punch-drunk Thai and pan-Asian menu. A word of advice: beware the barramundi jungle curry, unless you can tolerate the extremes of the Scoville chilli heat scale.
125 Flinders Lane, Melbourne; (03) 8663 2000
It’s the diffusion label to David Thompson’s high-flying fine diner Nahm in Bangkok but there’s no mistaking the style that makes the Australian-born chef the globally recognised authority on Thai food. This bustling street food canteen will knock your socks off with an incendiary chicken larp and make amends with rice noodles, luscious with sticky dark soy.
Crown Melbourne, Southbank; (03) 9292 5777
Magic Mountain Saloon
Aussie-Thai is the only apt description for this Thai saloon, where the likes of the chicken and kaffir lime Scotch egg crowned with crunchy onion rings and a lick of tamarind sauce is a hands-across-the-ocean triumph. Authenticity be damned when you have the irreverent appeal of fried chilli pork ribs and hot sauce or a breakfast of ocean trout, coriander and ginger scrambled eggs.
62 Little Collins Street, Melbourne; (03) 9078 0078
The former Vietnamese-leaning Saigon Sally has been reinvented as the very Thai BKK and the gods are pleased. The dial is set to party with the smart fit-out and enormous central bar but you can take the food very seriously indeed when it includes the likes of sour orange curry with quail and pork skewers with a condensed milk glaze.
2 Duke Street, Windsor; (03) 9533 2342
The modern fit-out. The beachside location. The lychee martini. All reasons this Port Melbourne spot is certifiably hot. It’s a pan-Asian affair, with dishes nodding to Korea, China and Malaysia but a quorum of well-executed Thai staples are its beating heart, from betel leaf-wrapped pucks of sticky pork and prawn with a burst of pineapple to a hearty green curry with apple eggplant.
49 Beach Street, Port Melbourne; (03) 9041 3211
Just off the main drag of Victoria Street this easygoing warehouse restaurant serves up some of the best Thai in town. Run by a Thai family, the menu skews to crowd-pleasing favourites such as stir-fries and pad Thai but finds its sweetest spot with super-authentic but rarely seen hawker dishes such as the boat noodles in a rich beef broth with pork crackling.
3-7 Ferguson Street, Abbotsford; (03) 9419 5899
Son In Law
You’ll find the son-in-law eggs – deep-fried, gooey-centred orbs painted with sweet tamarind sauce – at this cheerily decorated Collingwood spot. You’ll find a host of other Thai classics, too, including a nicely executed green papaya salad and prawn spring rolls but be prepared for a funky fusion line with braised beef Thai-style tacos.
56 Johnson Street, Collingwood; 0449 696 814
Melbourne’s original high-octane Thai pleasure palace shows no signs of middle age. Cookie’s eye-wateringly lengthy menu is studded with winners both familiar (duck jungle curry; deep fried snapper) and exotic (hello, crumbed lamb cutlets in yellow curry sauce).
Level 1, 252 Swanston Street, Melbourne; (03) 9663 7660
It doesn’t get any more authentic than this lunch-only boat noodle specialist, unless perhaps you were dining in an alleyway in downtown Chiang Mai. A humble stall under a CBD car park, Soi 38 is hard to find (pro tip: follow your nose) but well worth the effort. Grab a tick-a-box menu, pick your soup, choose your noodles and meat and get down with an olfactory party. And with all bowls just $10, it’s one of the cheapest lunches in town.
38 McIlwraith Place, Melbourne; 0490 396 382