A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
Published September 21st 2016
Chalawan rocks the Croctails
Chalawan Thai Restaurant, located at 102 Smith Street, Collingwood, is a Thai restaurant with a difference. Describing itself as the 'crocodile king of Smith Street', Chalawan boasts 'Thai flavours with modern techniques and local produce' which combine to create its sophisticated menu. In just five months of operation, Chalawan has already established itself as a favourite amongst locals. I visited last night to check it out at the official launch.
Walking into the restaurant, the first thing one notices is the design. There are angular exposed timber struts on the upper walls and ceilings. It almost has the appearance of the hull of a wooden ship, and creates height and interest in what is actually quite a narrow space for a restaurant. There is plenty of light, without it being overly bright.
The restaurant features a long bar and exposed timber struts
Running along the right side of Chalawan is a long bar. There are tables in the areas in front of and behind the bar, as well as bar stools running along the length of the bar.
On arrival, we were offered a Thai inspired cocktail - or 'croctail' as Chalawan prefers to refer to them. Dear Jasmine, as it was named, comprised Bombay dry gin, Pavan liqueur, banana liqueur, cinnamon, citrus, jasmine and sparkling water. Served with thyme sprigs and cucumber in the glass, it was a delightful, refreshing drink, with a hint of spice. Scanning Chalawan's cocktail menu, the Asian influences are obvious. Examples are the Palmeira ($23): tequila, Vietnamese leaves, palm juice, apple cider, sparkling water and caramel; or Thanks Honey ($21): Triple Sec , Reung-Peung tea, citrus, Indian pale ale and sparkling water.
We also got to sample a range of dishes from Chalawan's menu. There were some real stand outs for me in the selection. I loved the Hoy Tord ($9 for two pieces): Coffin Bay oysters served with lightly pickled beansprouts, smoked chilli sauce and Chinese chive. They are lightly fried to give the oysters a slight crunch as you bite into them, and with an explosion of flavours from the accompaniments. I will certainly order the Hoy Tord when I return.
Hoy Tord - oysters with lightly pickled beansprouts, chilli sauce and Chinese chive
Another favourite dish was Gaeng Te Poh Moo Sam Chun: smoked pork belly, with Te Poh curry with Chinese spinach, caramelised stone fruits and crispy rice cake. The pork was cooked to perfection - tender and moist - with a sweet and spicy edge from the accompaniments.
Pork belly - tender and moist - delicious! (Note this is a sample size, not the full-sized portion.)
If you like it hot, there are some dishes where Chalawan pulls no punches. Try Sai Oua, Thai style spiced pork sausage with roasted young chilli relish and pork crackling (a delicious combination) ($12) or Kanom Jeen Neua, braised beef cheek green curry, with rambutan and Thai rice noodles ($28).
Chalawan is open from 5-11pm Tuesday to Saturday, and from 11am-11pm on Sunday (closed Mondays).
Given there is limited seating, reservations are recommended. To make a reservation, please call (03) 9078 9532, or click here to book online.
The images in this article were taken by the writer. They are not to be reproduced in any form without the express permission of WeekendNotes.