After returning to Sydney after a good chunk of time in Thailand, I was on a mission to find a decent Thai restaurant in Sydney's Inner West. And not just any restaurant, but one that could help calm my Thai food withdrawal symptoms. It occurred to me that I'm not the only one who has experienced this cuisine-need when returning from a country that has happily assaulted your taste buds with its culture of food.
I had a look around what was on offer in the Inner West. I have to say I was a little out of my league. Afterall, Saam Thai in Campbelltown had been my go-to Thai restaurant with their gluten-free soy sauce and their great service.
Also, there's a lot of choice in the Inner West, but after a little consideration, I decided to try out Thai Pothong in Marrickville. It looked like as good an option as any - but particularly considering it already has a popular sister restaurant of the same name in Newtown.
I must admit, I had a little more than just a hankering for some excellent food. Aside from my need for some authentic Thai flavours, I was hoping to gain one of the other fantastic benefits I get from Thai food. Like most South East Asian cuisine, it lends itself very well to a meat and dairy-free diet.
This was a large consideration I had in mind as I entered Thai Pothong Marrickville, got seated and began to peruse the menu. As it turns out, I shouldn't have been worried, I soon discovered that they offer a wide variety of vegan-friendly dishes and actually have a designated section of their menu for vegan entrees as well as mains. Speaking of catering to those with particular dietary needs, they also have an extensive gluten-free selection of dishes.
Despite this, I did see some overall gaps in the menu - in particular I needed a hit of the popular Thai dish - Green Papaya Salad. I decided to ask if they were able to make me a vegan version of this dish anyway on the off chance that they might cater for more Thai dishes than they advertised on the menu. I wasn't disappointed and they obliged with a lovely light and crisp Vegan Green Papaya Salad. Two thumbs up for that fact alone. Add to that the fact that they finished it off with some green beans - a common addition that really completes that dish.
I decided that I would try another iteration of spicy freshness and went with the Spicy Tofu Salad. It seemed to be more of a fusion dish having a base of conventional mixed greens with sliced Spanish onion tossed through, little fried cubes of tofu and a spicy hot and tart dressing.
If, like me, you don't mind a generous dose of chilli this salad could work for you. There was also a clear lemon grass flavour to this dish too.
Another Thai dish that I had learnt of was the choo chee curry. I had seen all sorts of iterations of this, but all with seafood as the focus of this red curry dish. Thai Pothong, however, offers a tofu version of the curry with a generous addition of vegetables. It was similar to a laksa but much richer.
I do like a sweet dimension to savoury food. However, I did feel that this creation was a little too sweet for my taste - although it may be just right for some. It has to be said that the portion size was generous and could easily be shared between two people.
The Pad Thai I ordered had the usual components - simply flavoured noodles, a topping of crushed nuts, bean sprouts, and a wedge of lemon. If you don't eat egg - which is normally added - just be sure to ask for this to be left off.
I enjoyed the dish, but I was surprised to see it was made with round noodles instead of the usual flat noodles. It must be said though that the Thai Pothong version is perhaps a little healthier as they also include some additional vegetables in the dish.