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Chat Thai - Campbell Street, Sydney CBD

Chat Thai Haymarket on Urbanspoon

Chat Thai has a network of cafes and restaurants in the greater Sydney area, although I reckoned that the authentic original must be the outlet located at 20 Campbell Street, in the heart of the city centre’s Thai quarter. Here, amidst aromatic and exotic stuff from the nearby grocery and fresh food shops, I am brought back to memories of Bangkok, listening to the accentuated articulations of Thai words and expressions, feeling the buzz of commerce and wondering how the stage musical Love Never Dies, from the Capitol Theatre across the road, (picture above) fits in to this rather Asian-accentuated street of “Thaitown”.

The coconut milk flavoured ice cream (image below) is a must to finish up any meal. It is delicate, elegant and mild on the palate, a contrast to any spicy or chili-laden or sour dish you may have eaten for entrees or as the mains. I also eyed pandanus and pumpkin themed dumplings and the papaya salad "som thnam" guaranteed to give a kick in the palate, but I did have my share of well marinated chicken satay. (Image above). The satay was accompanied by a peanut sauce which was thicker, heavier and more consistent in texture than Malaysian versions.

Staff are quick to the step and service, echoing most Thai food outlets in Australia, heavily keen on obtaining as many table turnovers in customer patronage during the number of hours opened. The ambiance is rather dark and suggests much of wooden panelling. I was recommended to this Campbell Street place because of its rather high relative authenticity in cuisine and street food. I could not get a place to sit during the normal meal hours and had to resort to visit during Chat Thai's equivalent of “happy hours”, when you could taste its smaller servings of selected dishes for AUD 5 a quip between 2 and 5pm. Unlike most other Thai restaurants, Chat Thai has more variety in its offering of desserts, the menu of which changes daily at 6pm. Above, the entrance to the Campbell Street outlet and below, drinking water is served in unique bowls.

I chose a Thai version of the well known ChiuChow street food – kueh chap. (picture above) The proof of quality of this dish is in its broth stock, tasting both herbal and mildly salty at the same time. The ingredients gracing the soup can be confronting – pork intestine cuts are an inclusion – but go well when you just have hard boiled eggs, slices of pork shoulder, dried tofu pieces and slippery tubes of rice sheets.

Other Chat Thai outlets in the Sydney region are located at Level 6, Sydney CBD Westfield Pitt Street; Randwick’s Carrington Road; Manly’s East Esplanade; and the CBD's Galleries Victoria at 500 George Street.

My overall impressions for Chat Thai at 20 Campbell Street in Sydney's Haymarket are:

Atmosphere: Can be crowded and noisy

Location: Street wise

Taste: Some of the dishes are based on an acquired taste, but generally I found the food rather authentic

People Engagement: Smiling and Friendly

Service: Quick and attentive

Best Time to Visit: 2pm to 5pm

My Fav Dish experienced: Chicken Satay

Would I return? Yes.


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