I’ve mentioned before how Thai is not one of my favourite cuisines, but I’m willing to give anything a try if someone tells me it’s good. I’d heard good things about Khao Pla in Chatswood, so we visited one Thursday night on the recommendation of Electjai.
We let Electjai take care of the ordering since he’d been before, and the first thing we ate was this Isaan steak tartare. Raw beef was mixed with roasted rice, chilli flakes and lime juice. I don’t do well with too much chilli and while this steak tartare was absolutely delicious, oh man did it burn!
The problem with having a low chilli tolerance is that a lot of the time the food is still tasty so you just kind of have to put up with the burning. Luckily there was the perfect foil to all the hot Thai food with this iced Thai milk tea. Sweet, cold and milky, it did the trick in cooling some of the chilli heat, especially from that steak tartare.
We ploughed on through some less burn-inducing salads which included this delicious green mango salad dressed with palm sugar and lime juice. It also had some nice chunks of crispy fish tossed through the green mango, and was topped with a crunchy and savoury mixture of peanuts, chilli and dried shrimp. This was one of my favourite dishes of the night with great flavours and not too much chilli!
It’s hard to ignore the allure of crispy pork belly, even if it is doused in a hot chilli sauce. This wok-fried pork belly had a nice crisp exterior and packed a punch with the sauce. This dish was perfect with accompanied by a bowl of rice so the sauce also flavours the rice.
Twice-cooked pork ribs are also a must-order. These were unbelievably tender with a sweet and sour sauce flavoured with palm sugar and tamarind. The meat literally fell off the bone so there was no need for gnawing on the ribs – though sometimes that’s the best part!
One of the specials on the night we visited was a banana blossom salad. I’ve never tried banana blossom before so naturally we ordered it. The banana blossom itself is finely chopped and served in a big bowl along with some shallots and deep fried prawns.
Pork neck is a little used cut of meat but it’s one of the best ones. Slightly fatty, it was grilled until slightly charred on the outside but juicy on the inside and sliced thinly which made it perfect for dipping into the slightly spicy, herby and tangy sauce that was served on the side
We were still feeling a bit peckish so we put in an order for some deep fried soft shell crab. This was quite a generous serving and there was plenty of crab to go around. The light batter was flavoured with a tom yum spice salt.
The char-grilled ox tongue wasn’t the best looking of dishes but let me tell you it was one of the best ox-tongue dishes I’ve eaten. Not being slow-cooked like some other ox tongue dishes, it wasn’t fall-apart tender but instead had a nice texture to it. The ox tongue was wonderfully succulent and had a smokey flavour from the char-grill.
We were pretty full but I had been eyeing the black sticky rice dessert from the start. Luckily it was a small serve, but it was more than enough to get a taste of everything. There was the sticky rice with the pops of tapioca, slivers of jackfruit, cubes of coconut jelly, black sugar cane syrup and a scoop of Thai milk tea ice cream on top which was pure genius.
Despite not choosing to eat Thai food most of the time, I would definitely go back to Khao Pla – maybe not for that chilli steak tartare (not matter how tasty it was…) but I’m definitely keen to try out more of their extensive menu. And maybe go back for another taste of that green mango salad and the grilled ox tongue – and a side of Thai milk tea in case things get burny!