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Published February 15th 2015
Thai worth talking about
Mons Bans Sabai - 12 Martha Street, Camp Hill - image courtesy of restaurant Facebook page
There's no shortage of suburban Thai restaurants in Brisbane. In nearly each suburb, most people have their own local Thai joint that they can always count on for a quality Panang Curry or Pad Thai. Some Thai restaurants however are just at that next level, and given the chance, you'll talk about them to anyone that will listen.
Expect a traditional, and inviting interior overlooking Camp Hill's residential streets
Mons Ban Sabai falls into this category, hence this article. The award winning Camp Hill restaurant has been on my radar for more than a few months now, and last week our group of five finally indulged in a banquet of beautiful Thai cooking that long lingered on the tastebuds, after the final food was devoured.
Located on the corner of the somewhat well-to-do Martha Street shopping precinct, Mons has been a local fixture for more than 10 years, and a favourite among locals in the inner east. A sister restaurant of The Green Papaya, a relaxed fine dining restaurant that I've previously sung the praises of, Mons Ban Sabai, offers a contemporary take on Thai cooking.
You can expect an extensive menu of curries, sea-foods, stir frys, salads and noodle dishes meaning you'll pore of the pages, and find it difficult to make a decision. Luckily the waitress seemed to realise we needed plenty of time to decide, and so to cover all our bases, we ordered entrees, brown rice, coconut rice and mains.
Thai mixed entrees - fish cakes, steamed dim sims and deep fried tofu
For entrees, we had steamed Dim Sims, deep-fried tofu (amazing) completely melted in the mouth. We also shared fish cakes, lightly battered also had a tofu-like consistency.
The calamari salad was fresh and zesty, perhaps a little small for the price. ($24.90)
For mains I ordered the fresh calamari salad ($24.90.) Beautifully presented, it was a fusion of fresh and zesty flavours with mint, chilli, lemongrass and lime-juice. The calamari was perfectly grilled, tender and soft, however it was less of a salad and the serving size fairly small considering the price. I wanted something fresh and flavoursome and it definitely fit the bill, but for the price, the size was a little underwhelming,
Gai Pad Med Mamuang - Chicken and vegetable stir fry in sweet sauce, coconut rice, and cashew nuts
The table also ordered, a chicken and vegetable stir fry with sweet sauce and cashew nuts. Also in the salads department, the Yam Nua salad was beef pieces, onions, tomato and lettuce and while also beautifully presented, for 21.90, I also it was little bit overpriced when you consider the general simplicity of what was being served.
The star dish of the table had to be the whole deep fried barramundi, topped with minced pork, spices and basil. Another delicious dish. Maybe I this was the fresh and flavoursome dish I should have ordered from over the calamari salad.
Thai Whole Barramundi with minced pork and basil
The consensus around the table was positive and a general feeling that Mons Ban Sabai may even have the edge on sister restaurant, Green Papaya. I would have to disagree, and not just on the basis of my calamari salad. since I think the That menu is fairly comparable for each, Green Papaya also offers Balinese dishes and a beautiful wine list. The ambience is lovely in each, for me Green Papaya is more sophisticated, from what I have experienced much more generous servings, and a fine dining edge that makes it able to justify their prices. There's no doubt that with most mains creeping close to $30.00, Mons is definitely on the expensive side.
Still, there are many strong reasons why Mons Thai has been operating with consistent success in for 10 years in Brisbane's inner east. The food is generally excellent and it's definitely so much more than just another suburban Thai restaurant. If you're looking for a relaxed, yet inviting place and Thai food that you'll want to talk about, definitely give this one a try.