Oct 19 2010
ONE EVENING, RIGHT BEFORE DAYLIGHT SAVINGS STRUCK A MUCH-NEEDED MATCHSTICK OVER MELBOURNE
Tubbymistress is walking down Sydney Road, in search of friends and food. On her hit list is Tom Phat – not an obese nor ‘fully sick’ man named Tom but a funky Thai-style restaurant firmly on the radar of her friend, Miette.
It’s cold, and she clutches her straw-coloured handbag even tighter as she scours the buildings for street numbers. As soon she sees Tom Phat, she scurries inside, relieved to be off the street and minutes closer to being fed.Tom Phat
184 Sydney Rd
Tom Phat was filled to the brim when I arrived at 7.00 on a Thursday night, its slender dining area dimly lit and buzzing with conversation. We were seated at the tail end of the room beside the doors to the kitchen and toilets, a high-traffic area that was surprisingly comfortable. The passing traffic certainly wasn’t as distracting as the specials board, which threw my pre-dinner recon mission into turmoil, for the twice-cooked duck with mandarin, stir-fried bok choy and chilli caramel sauce joined a handful of must-try dishes that caught my attention on their website earlier that day.
Indeed, Tom Phat’s stylish menu is spiked with too many goodies to name. Breakfast would be a regular option if I lived closer, and the dinner menu is definitely worth driving for. The mains fall between $16 and $20, and include some great interpretations of Asian favourites, such as the green curry that was chosen by friend Cyril. It arrived in quick time, a generously sized, kaffir-lime-infused pool of mellow green artfully studded with chicken and sweet corn dumplings, a dish that left me questioning why I’d so quickly fallen under the spell of the duck.
There are some great vegetarian and vegan options, dishes that could sweet-talk a carnivore. The Buddha’s delight claypot (pictured at top) was one that leaned over and whispered in my ear, enticing me with its disarming combination of bean curd, mushroom, black bean and bean thread noodles … until the duck intervened to quash any hope of vegetarian defection. My much loved vegan, Miette, opted for the tempeh curry special, a dish that prompted a post-dinner rave.
If you’re craving something sweet, be sure to look at the specials board as there are no desserts on the menu. I couldn’t help but succumb to the mango crumble, a tiny pot of sweetness that ended my evening nicely. The topping was kind of so-so, but I stumbled across buried treasure when my spoon hit the mango. Nice.
TUBBYMISTRESS SAYS: This foody oasis at the southern end of Sydney Road is worth exploring with friends, especially if you’re in the neighbourhood. I can understand why it was a favourite of former Brunny-dweller Cyril, as it’s great for midweek dinner and drinks – semi-casual, with vibrant food and a spicy dash of character.