Wednesday 3 July 2013

Ruby Thai

837 High Street, Thornbury, VIC 3071

Ruby Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon
A newcomer to High Street, Thornbury and a welcome entrant in my opinion. It's still very quiet and they do brisk takeaway and delivery trade. It's no wonder as the food is pretty good. I am looking forward to visiting more to try the range of dishes on offer. This is a licensed restaurant.

The Place
This is a small place that seats about 30. Although it's small, there's actually quite a bit of space and they don't cramp their diners together which makes for a pleasant change. However, as a result, it oddly feels like there is a lot of empty space. I would classify the deco as contemporary with an ocassional nod to Thai artwork. It's a simple set up and I think just needs time to sort out how to use the space.

Things to do nearby: Due to the fact that the restaurant is only open for dinner - there's not a lot to do around here.

The Food
For a first visit, I am highliy optimistic and am looking forward to trying more dishes. I was impressed with the Curry Puffs (pictured below in the background) above all else. You know how sometimes, when you go to Thai restaurants, their Curry Puff has more air and curry inside the pastry? This is certainly not the case here. The serving portions are generous and there are chunks of minced meat and potato in this. This is the real deal - maybe they will eventually serve it with peanut sauce rather than the extremely sweet sauce at the moment - that would make it perfect.

The Deep Fried Wontons (above in the foreground) and the Wonton Soup (pictured below), with generous lashings of vegetables were also winners, with very generous servings and lots of meat in the wontons. Yummy. I have also had the Tom Kha (with chicken) which is not bad though I like mine with more sourness generally.

Gang Keow Wan - Green Curry with Chicken, nice thick sauce, a generous serving and not overpowering. This is not bad at all and what I like most about it is that it is not sweet. It has a very home-cooked feel to to it and would appeal to many people. I ocassionally would prefer my Green Curry to be more pungent - but tonight, this was just fine.
I have also had the Larb Gai (Minced Chicken Salad) and have to say this was probably the most disappointing dish of all as it did not have enough lime and acidity for me, and there was not enough crunchy roasted rice that I look for in Larb.

The Service
Really friendly service and most attentive. This is good and although some of the wait staff are still in training, they did a really good job. There doesn't seem to be any teething problems with service, which is great to see.

This was a really pleasant experience. Being the only diners at the time, it did feel strange but that wasn't the restaurant's fault. I look forward to trade picking to help create a bit of an atmosphere. Meanwhile - it seems that their delivery trade will keep them busy.

Cultural Moment
I want to talk about Hot Asian dishes - Chilli Spicy Hotness that characterises iconic Asian dishes from different regions. Many Asian cultures would claim to have hot dishes that they think others won't be able to cope with. So then, who has the hottest dish in Asia? Which culture trumps the others in terms of ability to induce tears, numbness and towel madness to wipe away the perspiration?

The reality is that most cultures in Asia have some pretty hot dishes, but also different types of 'hotness' I will elaborate on. So, let's start from the furthest east.

Japan - While Japanese dishes are generally not well know for spiciness, they do have the iconic Wasabi paste. Try a small teaspoon of this without tearing up and burning up all your sinuses. While this is not Chilli hot, it is intense and though it does pass one quicker than Chilli hotness, it's intensity can make anyone cry and is most felt in the nasal passages.

Korea - Korean cuisine is filled with all sorts of very spicy dishes, including chilli laden kimchis, and hot chilli soups. On average, there's quite a bit of spice in this cuisine but there's one dish that makes me want to run for a cold drink just thinking about it right now. That's Jjampong - a seafood chilli noodle soup.  It is hot hot hot with intense chilli and the spiciness is in the soup which burns your entire mouth!

China - Ok, instead of talking about it, I should show you the picture in another blog entry. This Hot and Spicy soup is a northern Chinese delicacy. The one in the picture is supposed to be 'medium spiciness'. Northern Chinese cuisine is laden with dried chillies, in ther stir-fries, soups and just as a side dish. Also, because these dishes are usually quite oily, they coat your mouth with a layer of chilli oil that's not easy to get rid of. In addition, not only does this dish use chilli, it also uses the mouth numbing Szechuan peppercorn, which adds another level of 'pain' for the willing.

Vietnam - Vietnamese cuisine doesn't believe in numbing the diner but gives the option through the chilli sauces and fresh cut bird's eye chilli which is pretty naturally vicious. Feel free to add to your Pho and turn it into a bowl of really hot soup.

Thailand - The Thais eat some really hot dishes that are chilli based. Even the innocuous Tom Yum Soup can be cooked with a level of chilli that would make the most experienced chilli eater sweat. You just have to be clear the level of spice you can take. There's no one dish that's particularly vicious but many Thai dishes have the potential for killer chilli levels.

Malaysia and Singapore - Like the Thais, the Malaysians and Singaporeans do eat some really hot dishes, with chilli infused into every day dishes. There's also usually a side serve of chilli sauce, or fresh cut chillies. They do add a range of chilli varieties more liberally to many of their dishes. They also have sambal chillies which they use in their stir fries and curries.

Sarawak - Notable mention because this is where I am from. Like other Malaysians, Sarawakians do like spicy food but there's an added dimension in Sarawak. They produce pepper (not capsicum) which adds a different level of spiciness to many dishes. I am one of those people who can take the intense heatiness of the pepper spice even though my tolerance for chilli is relatively low, compared to the rest of my family. The intensity of pepper spiciness creates a warmth in me which I love in winter.

Indonesia - The range of spicy dishes here is pretty prolific and the Indonesians also like adding chilli pastes to their dishes. Their sambal chillies can be pretty intense and if you are looking for a bit of an adventure in Melbourne, try the sambal at Warung Agus. It's not for the faint hearted. Again, like her other Southeast Asian neighbours, the level of chilli can be introduced to everything from your basic noodle dish to your curries. Sometimes, the chilli is nicely tampered with the sweet sauces that Indonesians love so much.

Sri Lanka - Sri Lankan sambols and intense chilli infused dishes are probably some of the hottest in the world without numbing the mouth. The high chilli content also serve to preserve some of the condiments and dishes, which when used as an accompaniment, will probably drive you to tears. Unlike places in Southeast Asia and China where many dishes are not hot at all, in Sri Lanka, the opposite is probably more true.

India - With Indian cuisine, the more south you travel, the spicier and hotter the food, or you could say - the closer to Sri Lanka, the hotter the food. Some of the curries in South India are really intense and would be impossible to eat without lashings of rice or roti.

So, I hope you have enjoyed reading about hot dishes around Asia - who wins? I don't know as I am not chilli crazy... I like to actually enjoy my food without tearing and worrying about how I look as my glasses collect my dripping perspiration, as I eat. Having said that, I do have a tolerance for chilli but it should be a joy - not a pain.

1 comment:

  1. I have to visited this restaurant through your suggest website. one more thing which I want to share with you. "Indian Hut Bangkok" is a best place for dinner in Bangkok. I have been using them services for past 8 years.