Chedi Thai was an easy dining experience - it's the kind of restaurant I'd go back to the next time I wanted a nice Thai meal in a relaxing setting. The owners, Greg and Shanya Richardson, have a decade of experience working in luxury Asian hotels behind them (they owned the Jurlique franchise for Asia), so it’s not surprising to see a Thai spa aesthetic to their restaurant. You’re greeted by the sound of trickling water pouring through wide bamboo into a pond full of tiny fish. The site is the old 'Thailand' at the city end of King Street. And if you arrive as the clock hits seven pm, all of the parking out the front is suddenly available - "Score!" I yelled.
Relax in a high-backed rattan chair as visually appealing Thai dishes are presented on pale jade plates which have all been purpose made for the restaurant. As is my usual way of acting, I ordered the weirdest dish I could find - which had us unwrapping our own banana leaf parcel of steamed Fish Soufflé ($12 / 2 pieces).
Now it might not look like much, but even my dubious dining companion had to admit it was a winner, with the bright, fresh flavours and tender fish... give it a go!
Even more surprising were the vegetarian Corn Patties ($10) which reminded me of fresh popcorn in their light tapioca batter and plum dipping sauce - not what I expected at all, and yes, the corn was fresh!
The best example of what I meant by a spa aesthetic to the food, is the Pineapple Fried Rice ($16.50) which of course tastes even better served in a fresh pineapple boat - heck, it tastes better because for once they use FRESH pineapple in it - hallelujah! I loved this dish, it made me smile, appealed to my eyes, and was a lovely fried rice to boot.
For me the least successful dish was the Crispy Soft Shell Crab topped with Green Mango Salad ($25) largely because I didn't think the soft shell crab benefited from being made soggy. This is possible to achieve with a sauce - I know because they did it at Van's Bondi Junction when we dined there recently.
But they ended on a real high with the Spicy Pork Belly ($17.90) in red curry sauce which was really excellent, except perhaps we would have preferred it hotter. According to Greg, the flavours are all “authentic, apart from how hot it is.” So with heat toned down for a Western palate, if you like it hot like we do, remember to ask.
We ended on Sorbet ($8.00) which was not made in-house (Gelato 2000 in Rozelle) and I've had better.
Pricing is friendly, and it’s worth skipping the bottle shop too, as the wine mark-ups are incredibly low. Bottles are all under $45, glasses range from $5-6 and spirits (including brands like Absolute and the Frangelico we enjoyed) are all $6. The presentation again was worth noting. In fact, fresh orchids were all over the restaurant, and it reminded me of being in Hawaii (where Anthuriums reigned supreme). It's such a small touch, but it made me happy.
74-78 King Street, Newtown
Ph: (02) 9516 1127