You may have noticed that given the large number of Thai restaurants in Sydney, I have yet to review any of them on my blog. This is because I don’t really like Thai food – granted, I’m not all that familiar with Thai food and my knowledge about it is very limited, but I do know that there are certain flavours used in Thai cooking which don’t appeal to me. Namely coriander and kaffir lime. Bleh! (It also doesn’t help that I can’t take a lot of chilli)
As a result I don’t really choose to go to Thai restaurants, but on this night we were dining with family friends and the parentals had chosen to go to Red Spoon in Castle Hill. I always think that if I keep trying foods then maybe one day I will grow to like them, so I went along with this attitude hoping that my tastebuds will have magically grown to like these Thai flavours.
Well, I can’t confirm that this happened, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed most of the food that we ordered. Maybe because I tried to steer away from the dishes that I knew would be very strong on the coriander or kaffir lime leaf taste, but nevertheless it made me think that I should go out and try more Thai food before being so quick to strike off a cuisine completely.
We started with some curry puffs which had a crisp deep fried pastry outside, and mixed vegetables on the inside. I thought the filling could have been more flavoursome but I loved flaky texture of the deep fried pastry. The curry puffs were served with a sweet chilli sauce.
The curries were next to arrive. I’m a bit wary of Thai curries because of the dreaded kaffir lime leaf but this Penang curry was light and creamy with lots of vegetables and pieces of chicken breast. I didn’t detect any kaffir lime but it was flavoursome and had a good chilli kick.
However I did prefer the milder Massamun Beef Curry which had a thicker sauce and a richer flavour. The chunks of beef were tender and soft although they skimped on the potatoes, only providing two small pieces (the blackened things in the background of the photo).
A serve of the cinnamon duck was brought to the table with pieces of roast duck with crispy skin, shiitake mushrooms and a light plum sauce. Apart from the two cinnamon sticks garnishing the plate, I didn’t taste much cinnamon flavour. The dish was still nice though, with the sweet sauce complementing the duck nicely.
The crispy soft shell crab was by far my favourite dish of the night – even though in the description it said it had kaffir lime leaves, I didn’t really taste this at all (possibly because my mouth was half on fire). But no matter how hot it was, I couldn’t stop eating the super crunchy deep fried soft shell crab with chilli jam drizzled on top. A must order!
We also got another of the ‘signature’ dishes, the stuffed squid. This looked great when it was placed on our table but after taking a bit I was disappointed. The squid was overcooked and rubbery, making it really difficult to chew. I liked the stuffing of minced chicken and vermicelli though so I poked this out of the squid and ate that instead, leaving the tough squid behind.
A large plate with a magnificent whole fish was set down on the table and we dug in eagerly. The deep fried barramundi had soft flesh and a beautiful crisp skin from the deep fryer and it was awesome because it was deboned as well! It came sitting on a bed of rocket with a nice citrus dressing and deep fried green papaya as a garnish.
There was a mix-up with one of our dishes when we noted that our braised pork belly never arrived. It turns out that it looked similar in appearance to the cinnamon duck dish, so the waitress thought we had already been given our pork belly dish when she saw the duck on our table. After we explained what had happened, the braised pork belly was brought out a few minutes later. This dish was noticeably less well-presented than the others and to be honest it tasted like it had been reheated in a microwave with the greens being wilted and the dish being altogether very hot compared to the others we had eaten. It tasted almost exactly the same as the cinnamon duck dish but with pork belly, and although the pork was tender enough the dish lacked a depth of flavour that I usually associate with braised pork belly dishes. We were starting to get full anyway so we left this behind and I sort of regret chasing up the dish in the first place since it was a disappointment.
Although there were a few hits and a few misses with the food, it was mostly an enjoyable experience. It certainly seems popular with the locals since it was full to the brim on a Saturday night and I saw them having to turn away people or having them sit out in the freezing cold. I would definitely go back for more of that soft shell crab and I would want to try more of the dishes on their extensive menu. Time to reintroduce my tastebuds to Thai food, I think!
Red Spoon Thai Restaurant
Shop 7, 6-14 Castle Street
Castle Hill NSW 2154
Ph: +61 2 9899 1338
Open 7 days, 11.30am – 10.30pm