NOT: Authentic Thai Taste, 92-94 Johnston St, Collingwood

Thai Taste Collingwood Johnston St

Authentic Thai Taste is renowned for being one of the best Thai restaurants in Melbourne – the full house of Thai people on a weeknight is evidence of that. So where did we go wrong?

We’ve had two attempts at weekday takeway from Authentic Thai Taste now and neither of the experiences have really encouraged me to recommend it.

The first time: RM ordered chicken satays (4 sticks for $6.60), Cashew Pag ($9.90) and Panang Duck Curry ($15.90) and requested the dishes to be hot. Given our previous experience with ‘Thai hot’ at Mamanee Thai, we even readied ourselves with glasses of milk to temper the chilli burn.

Then…nothing. And it’s not because we’re chilli-mongers – honestly, not even a hint of heat in any of the dishes.  Evidently ‘hot’ when requested by a Westerner still means ‘just spicy enough to be served to a Thai toddler’.  RM even suspected that they had written up the bill with some sort of secret code telling the kitchen that he was a ‘gweilo’.

Other than the disappointing lack of heat, the dishes were only a little above average Thai – the curries were ok but the chicken satays were extremely stringy and overcooked.

The second time: We ordered a seafood pad thai ($11.90) and a red curry with chicken ($11.90), both requested at ‘Thai hot’. We were slightly concerned when we were told that the red curry had been pre-made, so they would just chuck some fresh chilli in it  and that they would just add a heap of chilli flakes to the pad thai as well. I’m not sure whether that’s usual practice but talk of ‘pre-made’ didn’t give us any confidence in the quality of the food we’d be receiving. Anyway, the red curry was pretty good, but the pad thai was disappointing – the chilli flakes and the unevenly wok-fried rice noodles gave the dish an unpleasant charred flavour. Neither of the dishes had the wow factor of the pad thai or penang beef curry from Mamanee Thai.

We’re determined to find out why Authentic Thai Taste continues to get rave reviews, so we’re going to give it one last chance by dining in and hoping that there are different dishes on the menu.  The Thai people of Melbourne can’t all be wrong…

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19 thoughts on “NOT: Authentic Thai Taste, 92-94 Johnston St, Collingwood

    • Hi Billy

      I tried to look for the pork hock, but no luck. That’s why I suspect they have a significantly different takeaway/dining out menu and that’s why we’ve been disappointed so far. Third time lucky!

      Jetsetting Joyce

      • Sadly until the last few years “farang” didn’t have a negative overtone. But Western tourists in Thailand – a place I’ve visited numerous times over the last 15 years – have guaranteed the term is not one of endearment now.

  1. So we finally did go back — it was good but not great. They do indeed have a very different dine-in menu. Actually, they have two dine-in menus — a more authentic Thai one and one for more Western-friendly Thai. The take-away menu veers heavily towards the latter, with quite a few dishes that don’t feature on either menu. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to sample much from the “real” menu because there wasn’t really anything vegetarian on it.

    I had a good vego tom yum. Came with lots of mushrooms, and was strong and quite hot, with several whole chilli pods in it.

    I also had a sweet basil and chilli tofu stir fry, which, despite claims it was “hot”, was very very mild. It was fine, but just your standard suburban Thai stir-fry. I do like that they use a good quality firm tofu, instead of the deep-fried crap most other places use.

    James (above) also had the chicken skewers, which he pronounced good but nothing amazing (I sampled the satay sauce, for which I would give a similar assessment) and a BBQ chicken dish, which he said was delicious.

    Given the large number of Thai diners in there, I’d guess the more authentic menu is, indeed, more authentic. The more westernised stuff, is, as you say, a little above average Thai.

    So my heart still belongs to MaMaNee (who will happily do vegetarian versions of more authentic Thai dishes). BUT we were happy to discover Authentic Thai Taste delivers, and it will now replace Clifton Hill’s Regent Thai as our home delivery of choice, as it’s better AND cheaper AND closer.
    .-= Ruth´s last blog ..Family Portraits of all 56 ethnic groups in China =-.

    • Hi Ruth

      Thanks for your comments. Now I know there are several pitfalls with Authentic Thai Taste’s menu choices – avoid takeaway, avoid Western-friendly menu. Is the ‘real’ menu in English? Frankly, it all seems a bit too hard given that Mamanee is closer to our house and we don’t have to do a dance around the menu to make sure we get authentic Thai food. I’ll take note of the tom yum and BBQ chicken dish if we do decide to give Authentic Thai Taste a third try.

      Jetsetting Joyce

  2. It’s in both English and Thai. There is actually a THIRD menu with their recommended dishes and photos of them. Sounds complicated, but it’s actually fairly easy once you’re there and the service was excellent.

    In fairness, MaMaNee also has several menus — the front part of the menu is more Western-friendly, then the second bit is more Southern Thai specific, then their take away menu is also different and much more Western than the eat-in one, AND they have a separate lunch menu. I’d say it’s worth giving it a shot if you can be bothered.
    .-= Ruth´s last blog ..Family Portraits of all 56 ethnic groups in China =-.

  3. My Thai friend from Balwyn and Aunty from Springvale love this place and have been known to frequently travel from their respective suburbs for their fave Thai place.

    I’ve eaten in twice with my Thai friend and all items were spicey HOT. Taste wise it’s pretty good. But personally I wouldn’t cross suburbs for it. The ambience also needs a bit of make over. My aunty say you go there for the food, not the surrounds. For me I must have both otherwise I’ll cook at home instead.

  4. Hi Jetsetting Joyce,

    Loving your blog! I’ve just discover the beauty of food blogs and spending a lot of time on yours. Great stories and photos. Especially like the fact you’re willing to rate it and give your reasons for doing so. This will be one of my go-tos when trying out a new eatery.

    As for the Authentic Thai – the hubbies love the pork hock. I haven’t had it myself as I’m not a huge pork fan. The ladies love the papaya salad; and tamarind deep fried fish with kang Kung. I’ve had these and they are indeed quite yummy.

    My Aunty and friend also say that the servings are generous and price is quite reasonable. So it makes for a good night out for them.

    • Hi TruffleMe

      Brilliant! Consensus certainly agrees with your hubbies on the pork hock. I will also make a note of the papaya salad as it’s one of RM’s favourites. We’ll give it one more (dining in) try.

      Jetsetting Joyce

  5. You Don’t go to a place like authentic Thai taste for red
    curry and pad Thai , you can get that anywhere. I have been eating there for years and you should get the pork shank,
    BBQ chicken, satay sauce with prawn crackers, curry puffsanne prawn spring rolls and the
    papaya salad. The standard papaya salad is just nicely spicy, but if you want it hot tell them you want it 2x ( which = 2x the chilli) or 4 x ( 4 x the chilli) etc. An Indonesian friend bragged about his chilli eating abilities and turner into
    a tomatoe face after eating the papaya salad at 5x.
    Best Thai restaurant in Melbourne for sure!!! Don’t bother with take away, Thai food is fresh and fragrant and
    should be eaten just after it is cooked, not after
    sitting in a plastic container for 20 minutes .

    • Hi Alicialovesfood

      Thanks for your tips – I will take your list of recommended dishes with me next time I head to dine in at Authentic Thai Taste. After disappointing experiences with takeaway, I think you might be right, it’s not worth bothering with takeaway there.

      Jetsetting Joyce

  6. I agree with Alicialovesfood. Not to be patronising but the dishes you mention are kinda like the equivalent of sweet and sour pork and honey chicken in chinese food. They’re westernised dishes to suit a western palate.

    If you want heat, go for the salads :) As well as Alicialovesfood’s suggestions, I’d recommend the Larb Ped (duck salad) and the deep fried fish in green mango/apple salad.

    • Hi Sleepy Turtle

      Touche! When I dine in I will take your recommendations as well and avoid the westernised dishes. I’m not a real aficionado of Thai food, so thanks for the recommendations.

      Jetsetting Joyce

  7. Yea I actually had really good experience there at the restaurant with especially the pork shank and papaya salad. The fishes (steamed/fried) are also worth trying! The specials menu with photos would definitely provide sufficient variety to order from… something different! Speaking of which… the westernized menu is really a let-down because there was once I organized a dinner party with many caucasian friends and we ended up ordering many things like spring rolls, pad thai, green curry PRAWNS, cashew nut stir-fry… sigh… at least I got to order my pork shank :p

    Just becareful how much you order because the pork shank would already fill two people up without any other dishes…

    So yea! Great blog u have here! Hope you have a better experience in Authentic Thai Taste next time!

    • Thanks Jonathon, I’ve been sufficiently reprimanded about my Westernised choices from Authentic Thai Taste that I’m convinced to actually go back and order some authentic Thai :)

      Jetsetting Joyce

  8. My man is driving from the dandenongs to get takeaway from there! They will do the eat in menu as takeaway.. The soft shell crab and papaya salad are my favorites. Would love to find somewhere local that makes a papaya salad as good! If anyone finds anywhere let me know :)

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