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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Bites: Galangal Thai Cuisine @ East Victoria Park

Located just minutes from the main café strip in Victoria Park, lies another hidden gem in town.  Galangal Thai Cuisine has been around for years but its hidden location among the East Victoria Park’s suburb shops means it gets little exposure compared to the more main stream ones on the Albany Highway café strip.  The shop is pint as anything but as I have said before, never be too early to write off anything as some of the best things come in small packages.  My meal here with 6 other companions were an absolute bargain with the voucher giving us more than 50% of the price, but even without it, a meal here would not blow your wallet.  Small but complete 3 courses can be as cheap as $30 or as expensive as $60 depending on what you get.
It was a good first impression when I found out that their Thai Iced Milk Tea and Coconut Juice started at $3 bucks while sodas were only $2.50.   Comparatively, typical Perth prices for an Iced Milk Tea normally starts from $4.50.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy expectation of a small little glass with more ice than anything were seemingly exceeded.  It arrived in a large Ikea see through glass filled to the bream.  Definitely a steal for $3.   Its taste while not the best still proved substantially delicious and refreshing when paired with some of Galangal Thai Cuisine’s slightly spicy offerings.
We had 3 appetizers that night.  First was the Papaya Salad or Som Tam with all the condiments including peanuts,  and dried shrimps. A table favourite loved for its crunchy textures which are not only refreshing, but tasty as well. The sauce here had everything it needed. Salty, sweetness, and acidity with a mild heat. Definitely could do with more chili though.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPapaya Salad; shredded papaya, tomatoes, snake beans, chili, roasted peanuts, dried shrimps, lime juice, palm sugar
Next was the Tom Yam soup with Chicken($8) or Prawn ($10).  The bowl was slightly larger than your typical bowl but do not feel cheated. The prawn option came with at least 2 or 3 large prawns. Very yummy. While the soup tasted fine as is, I would have really preferred more heat to it. So if you are a thrill seeker, definitely ask for more chili!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATom Yam; spicy and sour soup with lemon grass, galangal, coriander, kaffir lime leaves. chili, lime juice
The last appetizer was the beef salad ($10) and it was by far my favorite appetizer for the night.Perfectly seasoned and cook spot on, the finely sliced beef was absolutely tender. The salad dressing again, was top notch like the Som Tam. However, it was the clever mix of greens and shallots which includes coriander, mint, cucumber that won my heart. It was a simple yet very cleverly put together recipe with all the herbs complimenting one another to give the dish a clean aftertaste. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABeef Salad; lightly cooked beef, shallot, chili, coriander, mint, tomato, fish sauce, lime juice
The finish of the appetizers was followed by the arrival of our Pad Thai ($14).  One with prawn and the other with chicken.While the taste was unmistakably Pad Thai, there is an alteration that would have made an OK noodle perfect. That is to reduce the amount of palm sugar used. It was not bad as is but there seemed to be a lingering sweetness in each bite that I did not quite like! In the end, it felt a bit colluded between staying true to its roots or to conform to the Aussie palate. Definitely stick to the former IMHO.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The next dish to hit the table was the beef Masaman.  Sitting close to the top of my curry list which also includes the Red Roasted Duck curry, the Masaman is something that is either extremely moreish with rice or a failure in waiting.   In the hands of Galangal Thai Cuisine’s chef, it was an absolute blessing.  Even Mei, who tended to dislike this dish due to other restaurants who undercook the bovine, found this curry to be delicious.  Seems to me like the chef’s slow cooking methods have paid off as the beef easily fell apart even by means of a spoon.  Served with rice, and its Thai at its best.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABeef Masaman Curry; rich and aromatic beef curry slowly cooked with coconut milk, roasted peanuts, potatoes and tamarind
Another dish served best with rice, the Roasted Duck Red Curry.  All the merits of a good Roasted Duck Red Curry was present here.  Perfectly cooked duck served with a slightly crisp skin with a rich and fruity sauce.  Duck breast were not the most tender but nothing noticeable when eaten with rice.  Definitely a crowd pleaser.  This curry can easily be a meal I will happily chow down with a serve of Jasmine rice.  Give me that any day, and I will be a happy man.  No arguing on that. (Edited picture with dual toning to further experiment with Lightroom)  PC010737-2Roasted Red Duck Curry; roasted red duck curry cooked in red curry paste, coconut milk, lychee, tomato, fresh basil
The last dish for the night was the Pad Prik King.  A quick stir fry which includes to use of a special in-house chili paste with prawns, snake beans and kaffir lime.  I have to say, it was just bursting with fragrance.  The chili paste was well sautéed and those kaffir lime leaves were just so yums together.  Definitely a good variation from my typical order of Basil Stir Fry. PC010731Pad Prik King; prawns, Thai chili pastel snake beans, Kaffir lime leaves
The dessert for the night was a combination of two things that is very true to the Thai street food culture.  One was the sticky rice, and the other was a coconut ice cream with hints of coconut flesh.  Creamy, sweet, and fragrant with a good savory-sweet balance simply brings out the best of this dessert.  Together, they are a pairing that lives at the very top only to be rivaled by its classic siblings; the Durian or Mango with sticky rice.  If I had one wish, it would be to double this desserts size.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe meal for the 7 of us ended up at $140.  That is extremely cheap and much of the cost was shaved off the bill thanks to the use of a Groupon promotion.  But without a the voucher, would it be very much more expensive?  Well for 7 appetizers, mains, dessert and drinks, the bill worked out to be around $280 which was about $40 per head for a complete 3 course plus a drink.  With the level of finesse on the table, a comparable meal elsewhere would not have been any cheaper than what I paid here full price or not.  But while the meal was not too expensive, be wary that the sizes of the food here were not exactly the largest in town.  But with such moreish sauces to go with rice, I doubt you will be complaining much.  Last but not least, I have to commend the decent service displayed by the staff that kept coming to our table despite being extremely busy on a Sunday evening. Our repeated calls for drinks were heard more often than not, and impressively without a sulk. 2 cheers for that.
This was definitely the highlight of my foodie hunt last week.  The food was good,  and my dining companions were every bit as awesome.  While its location away from the main café strip brings disadvantages, Galangal Thai Cuisine’s legion of loyal fans along with it’s prestigious recognition from the food industry is sure to keep it strong for a long time to come.   Sadly, this might be the ONLY and truly delicious Thai place in the whole of the Victoria Park area.
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