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Published February 16th 2017
Thai Be Or Not Thai Be
Crispy Soft Shell Crab with Green Curry Fried Rice and Thai Basil (by Chin Chin)
Thai cuisine has quickly become one of Melbourne's most popular dine-in or takeaway choices, with Thai restaurants popping up in every suburb. With a mix of spice levels for the Aussie palate and arguably the best value dishes in the city, Melbournians can happily devour Thai for lunch or dinner, whether in a spicy curry or a steamy soup. Begin your Thai taste test in Melbourne with these top 5 restaurants.
Arrive early to join the queue or grab a few friends as reservations are limited to parties of 3 or more. Once you're seated though, the staff at Chin Chin don't muck around. You'll be eating within minutes of ordering, the flavours matching the atmosphere - vibrant.
In a menu stacked with Thai delicacies, top picks include the crab and pork cakes with salted duck egg & tamarind relish, Crying Tiger (barbecue Sher Whagyu beef with chilli tamarind, glass noodles and mint) and palm sugar ice cream sundae with salted honeycomb & lime syrup for dessert. Savour each bite as they don't offer takeway containers for tomorrow's lunch.
Chin Chin is open 7 days a week at 11am, closing 11pm Sunday - Thursday and 11.30pm on Friday and Saturday.
Offering a combination of Thai and South East Asian dishes, Red Spice Road is particularly tempting for large groups with 3 set menus dinner options covering all their specialities. In a central location and with a private function room, it's a bonus for office workers popping in for the express lunch menu.
On that menu, highlights include the pork belly with chilli caramel, apple slaw and black vinegar, twice cooked lamb ribs with chilli jam and coriander and the ocean trout with green papaya salad, cashews, green chilli and tamarind dressing. For dessert, the macadamia crumble with pineapple, kaffir lime semifreddo, blood orange & ginger coulis is a refreshing finale.
Red Spice Road is open for 7 days a week for lunch 12pm - 3pm, dinner on weekdays and Sunday 5pm - 10pm and Saturday 6pm - 10pm.
Despite the name, you won't need to win a children's game to enjoy a good meal at Rice Paper Scissors. The chefs cover the full range of flavours and textures synonymous with Asian fusion with tapas-sized dishes designed for sharing. These delights arrive separately for civilised sharing.
Highlights on the menu are lime cured kingfish salad with mint, chilli and shallot, barbecued Queensland king prawns served with Aunty Chan's secret sauce, and thai fried chicken marinated in galangal, chilli and coriander root.
Rice Paper Scissors is open 7 days a week for lunch 12pm - 3pm and dinner 5.30pm - 10.30pm, with a second restaurant at 307 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy.
Start the night right with dinner at the Nine Elephants before a short walk to Etihad Stadium for a concert or AFL match. Although tucked in a quiet street, the atmosphere inside is bustling, with friendly staff keeping diners happy during the busy lunch periods. Although Thai isn't overly spicy, you can request moderate heat using the ratings on the menu.
Low on heat, order the Larb Gai salad (minced chicken with mint leaves and herbs mixed in Thai style lemon dressing), or go hotter with the Gang Massaman Neua (beef slowly simmered in coconut cream, sweet potato, onion, potato, and cashew nuts).
Nine Elephants is open for lunch on weekdays 11am - 2.30pm and dinner Monday - Saturday 5.30pm - 10pm, closing on Sunday.
While the competition seem idle, Ying Thai 2 is easy to find - just join the queue for the popular Thai place on Lygon.
Start with the grilled satay chicken skewers served with peanut sauce. If you're serious about heat in your food, there's no shortage of fire in the Gang Pa, a prawn soup in a hot pot and Tom Yum (Thailand's favourite soup with mixed seafood). A milder pick is the Pud King (stir-fried chicken, beef, pork or seafood with ginger, mushrooms, onion and oyster sauce).
Sip lemongrass ginger tea from the quirky Thai-themed cups or if you prefer wine, you can bring your own for $5 corkage.
Ying Thai 2 is open 7 days a week 11.30am - 10pm.
Where do you go for the tasty Thai in Melbourne? And what's your favourite dish? Please let us know with a comment.