There’s so much to love on the menu at Tom Phat that I wished (a) we lived closer; (b) we were more than two diners on the night I visited; and (c) I hadn’t married a man with a relatively small appetite (sorry RM!).
Tom Phat serves a mishmash of South East Asian flavours with a strong focus on Thai food. The surroundings are funky and modern with nary a gilded temple – it’s more brushed concrete and wooden beam industrial chic and the crowd it draws appear to be equally young and hip.
It’s arguable that the restaurant/cafe’s modern approach to Thai food and decor makes it the cheaper, less polished, little sibling of Longrain, which means it gets a big thumbs up from me.
An early dinner meant that we had no trouble getting a table and the food came out promptly once we ordered – in fact the longest lag in time was due to us flipping undecidely back and forth between the numerous pages of starters and mains and the long list of specials covering the large blackboard.
In the end we decided on green mango kingfish poached in coconut milk with wok tossed bokchoy and chilli jam ($20) and Khmer Chicken Samlor, braised chicken pieces with lime, snakebeans and pumpkin ($17) plus two bowls of steamed rice (a very reasonable and justifiable $2 each, unlike many other establishments).
The kingfish was freely kicking with chilli, with the kind of spicy combination perfect for hoovering down with rice. On the other hand, while the chicken curry looked punchy and vibrant with its mix of colourful ingredients, I found it rather bland in flavour. In retrospect I have no idea why I ordered it, as I’m not a fan of Cambodian food generally, finding it neither sufficient spicy like Thai food or utilising the best aspects of raw and fresh ingredients like Vietnamese food. I was half tempted to tip the remaining chilli jam from the kingfish into the chicken.
In the end I decided to take the remaining chicken curry home (making a nice lunch the next day with some brown rice) so I could try dessert. RM had bowed out halfway through the main courses so I proceeded alone with the mango and passionfruit crumble with coconut ice cream ($10).
The crumble was nothing spectacular – the fruit had cooked to an unrecognisable mush and the crumble was too sandy. However, the ice cream was gorgeous – super creamy and almost taro-like in texture and flavour. So on balance, a dessert worth trying.
The bill came to a very reasonable $50 for two people and my experience encouraged me to definitely take the trip to Brunswick to visit Tom Phat again.
- Tom Phat, 184 Sydney Rd, Brunswick +61 3 9381 2374