Thursday, 7 March 2013

Thaila Thai

82, Lygon St, Brunswick East, VIC 03057

Thaila Thai on Urbanspoon

This is Thai stir fry heaven. It's where they make their mark and their money - with inter-changeable ingredients and sauces, depending on what you like. Every style of stir fry can be cooked with every protein. It's also a cheap eat and a haven for students and those on a budget. So, don't expect fine dining or even high quality cafe, this is more cafeteria than cafe.

The Place
Set in Lygon Street, Brunswick, you can't expect a lot of parking, especially with the number of restaurants and pubs around this area. It's a noisy eatery and sound insulation is not good, coupled with the bad general insulation and the kitchen being in the same space, you have a pretty noisy place. Sometimes, you might also have to share a table with others... it's all pretty rough and ready and grotty (which is not surprising given the kitchen is not in a separate space). If you don't like that sort of atmosphere, you are going to find this place incredibly frustrating. Otherwise, you might be better off sitting outdoors, if you can cope with the 'too-cool-for-school' crowd hanging about :).

Things to do nearby: Any number of pubs and Gelo Bar!

The Food
With the range of stir fries here, there should be something to satisfy most people. However, if you observe the menu, you will probably understand that this is formulaic cooking with the same basic sauces over and over again. It's a good place for your basic stir fries with a Thai flavour; the usual suspects of Thai flavuring including sweet chilli sauce, basil, cashew nuts, lemongrass, peanut sauce, tamarind and ginger are all present in different combinations. You also have black bean sauce thrown in for good measure.  There's is also always a  hint of fish sauce and definitely MSG here. However, because of the way this is all set out - it becomes very generic and there's nothing very special about the dishes. This is not a restaurant for the highly critical Thai officionado.

Given the price one is paying for these dishes though, there's not much to complain about. It's a simple no frills meal - Thai fast food which satisfies a basic meal needs. Why then, do people rave about this place? I think it's because the food comes in great quantities with ample serves of vegetables, it is generally tasty if not special, lots of garlic to get the tastebuds going, and it's quick. So, it's not bad at all as fast food goes and there are plenty of places in food courts around the world that are less impressive.

The Service
This is a fast food joint really with no-frills service. They take your order and they deliver your food quickly and in random order. It's usually pretty fast, even though the queues are long. Relatively firendly if a bit rushed and matter of fact.

I would go there on a School night, when I can't be bothered to think of anything else - and just want a simple meal. Great for a no-frills takeaway...

Cultural Moment
Does grotty mean it's authentic? No - that's a bit condescending I think. There are plenty of nice places in Thailand that are far from grotty in terms of cafes and dining spaces. Even the food courts in many of the big shopping megaplexes are clean and pleasant.

There are plenty of people in the world who complain about places in SEAsia saying its no longer authentic because it's so 'clinical', clean and less grungy than it used to be - back in the good old days when you know - it was living on the edge a little bit and things were a bit grotty. Parts of Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and definitely Singapore - are no longer authentic because of this change.

That REALLY annoys me because it's all good for a visitor to want to 'live on the edge' with the possibility of catching malaria, diarrhea and hepatitis of some form. But it's not so good if one has to live there and this becomes an everyday possibility. The clean up of SEAsia can't happen fast enough, and if one associates authenticity of the culture with grottiness and eating by the drain, one really has to have a reality check about their understanding of other cultures. Ok - getting of my rant box now - geez! where did that come from?

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