August 30th, 2007

Does My Bomb Look Big In This?

Review - Oceanic Thai (CLOSED)

Chef Max Mullins was the head chef at Sailor's Thai, and had David Thompson as his mentor. He was sent to Thailand to learn about Thai cuisine, and the results show in his new venture - a fabulous 40 seater in Clovelly called Oceanic Thai.

What he does well is marry authentic Thai flavours with the best of Australian produce, in a fresh and balanced way that allows both elements to shine. The best example of this was his Oysters with Nahm Jim ($3.50 each) - the oysters were from Coffin Bay, and despite Nahm Jim itself being a bold flavour, you can still taste and enjoy the oyster's briny taste.



We chose their banquet menu ($62/head) which may sound expensive, but with 11 courses, plus a shared dessert platter (with three amazing tiny taste sensations each on it), I feel it is Sydney's best value degustation!

Perhaps my next favourite dish was called Mahor ($8/4 pieces) - tiny serves of caramelised pork, prawns and chicken served on pieces of fresh pineapple. The sharp fresh pineapple set off the sticky sweet surf,turf'n'feather mix a treat!



I enjoyed the Miang ( $18.00/4 pieces) of grilled prawns with the zesty tang of pomelo and peanuts, but I have had similar dishes that match it before.



What was totally new to me however was the Spicy Salad of Salted Cashews ($16.00) flavoured with loads of fresh chilli, and lovely kaffir lime. It was a taste sensation - and as a person who has long picked out every single cashew from any dish (as they are a favourite), it sure was nice to have more cashews than I could finish... I hit 'cashew-ed out'!



As I understand, it was based upon an authentic Thai salad - I have just never encountered it before. But the addition of the sweet cabbage was pure Max Mullins, and he is right on the money with the flavour balance.



The Seared Mussels and Thai basil with Sriracha ($18.00) taught me that Sriracha can be tasty as well as 'burn-your-face-off' hot. A very good dish, and the fresh Thai basil was well employed in it.



We had a multitude of mains which arrived simultaneously. The best for me was the Son-In-Law Eggs ($9.00/2 pieces) and the gorgeous caramelised pork you can see in the image above with the coiled snake beans. The photo is of two dishes. On the LHS you can see Lon of Prawns ($29) which is a soup like dish of fresh prawns in coconut cream with green papaya, and you eat it wrapped with the sticky sweet pork in one of the available greens.

On the RHS you can see the Nahm prik ($27) which is also eaten wrapped - this time with cabbage and cucumber. The soupy concoction itself is a hot and sour relish of Smoked Trout. Both of these dishes were good, but they didn't quite match the 'wow' factor of his amazing entrees (except in the sweet pork and the eggs as mentioned).

At this point the dinner deteriorated into the world of too many tastes, but suffice to say, there wasn't a dish I didn't like. I revived slightly with dessert to recall to photograph the Dessert Sharing Platter ($18/ 2 people).



The best piece of dessert was the sensuous square of pandanus and coconut in agar... slippery, cooling, and seductively tasty. I was also into the sauce that came with the fritter - caramel and sweetened condensed milk made it a sugary delight. The shot glass had a coconut cream covered chocolate mousse with candied kumquats, which was an unusual combination... it was all very good.

I highly recommend this little restaurant, especially because they don't have a freezer - yes folks, all fresh, every day... you can't beat that. Plus it's nice, in a suburban and comfortable kind of way, decorated with style (that hasn't yet dated), warm friendly service, and in a place where it is easy to park. Their wine list is good, with reasonable mark-ups too, and a few specials worth checking out on the blackboard.

If you think you might be bored with Thai, take a chance and see if Oceanic Thai might change your mind... it changed mine!

Oceanic Thai
309 Clovelly Road, Clovelly
(02) 9665 8942