Looks like any other Asian eatery…
Noodlies, Sydney food blog reckons this place is special. Why?
Thanks to a thriving Sydney CBD student population Sydney is benefiting from decent, cheap eateries. The block bounded by Ultimo Road, George and Thomas streets is a perfect example; Chinese noodle restaurants, popular Satang Thai Exclusive, Indonesian eateries and others offer no nonsense, home-style food for the student budget.
Lao City Thai on Ultimo Road looks like all the others from the outside, the golden glow of the bain-marie by the entrance beckons students looking for a fast feed. Inside bright, clean with stark-dark chairs and tables and a homely counter stacked with mini chilli plants and an alluring ginger jar fish bowl. Step inside and you’ll be greeted immediately by multiple sing-song voices of welcome by friendly, perky staff.
So far, it’s all standard Asian eatery. But then the food arrives.
The lively yum nua (beef salad) is a perfect starter, tart and fresh with plenty of crispy greens, including long slices of green apple, the sourness is moderated with a fair shake of the fish sauce bottle. The ingredients combine for a heady-zesty sauce that’s eagerly absorbed by thick slices of well cooked beef. It renders us eager, desperate for more food.
This ‘medium-hot’ pad kha prao gai (chilli chicken basil) packs a Trojan horse punch; subdued for the first mouthful (is it the spice or just the heat from the steamed rice?). By the second mouthful the spicy nature is fully revealed – red and raging. By the third mouthful everything settles down and you appreciate the depth of flavours packed into this colourful but simple looking stir fry – hint: sip the sauce, it’s addictive. Purists will be happy to know minced chicken is used instead of pieces.
The drier gai yang (grilled chicken) is unremarkable, the well-cooked, relatively plain chicken taste and texture makes a convenient contrast to the intense flavours of the preceding dishes.
Lao City Thai’s menu features an extensive range of seafood dishes beyond the usual Thai-Lao standards including an intriguing looking and sounding raw blue crab salad (below). The specials board the night noodlies visited were all seafood dishes.
We leave smiling, our meal with rice and a coke came to less than $40. This eatery might cater for students with a bain-marie and cheap prices but there’s no compromise on taste or choice if you fancy something authentic that’s not the ubiquitous standards – though their standards are remarkably tasty.
Lao City Thai might look the same as the other cheap-and-cheerfuls. Maybe that’s why, despite being around since 2011, it hasn’t been discovered by the hordes of food bloggers (me included). A quick google search shows a few reviews on sites like Urbanspoon, Yelp, Eatability etc, but not by food blogs. Noodlies is hoping that will all change. Try it, I think you’ll love it and please, spread the word.
Lao City Thai
Shop 10, 37 Ultimo Rd Haymarket, Sydney
Ph: 9212 1080