The round-up: tantalise your tastebuds at Brisbane’s best Thai restaurants
Any cuisine that can plate up fiery curries, saucy noodle dishes and zesty salads has our immediate vote, so you can only imagine how much we love Thai cuisine. Give it to us takeaway, or sit us down for a dine-in experience – either way we’re always ready to take on some Thai. Brisbane is flush with incredible Thai eateries, from flash restaurants to hole-in-the-wall neighbourhood joints. Everyone has their preferred spot, but we’ve endeavoured to collate as many as we can into a list of what we hear is the best. If you’re reading this on an empty stomach, be prepared to pick up an unshakable craving for Thai right about now …
Short Grain by Martin Boetz, Fortitude Valley: The name Martin Boetz is synonymous with Thai in Australia. The award-winning chef has helped shape modern Asian cuisine in Australia, with his heralded stints at venues like Longrain in Sydney and Melbourne establishing him as a leading voice in the local Thai cuisine scene. His new restaurant and Asian food store, Short Grain, sees the chef showcasing some of his greatest hits – think salt-and-pepper cuttlefish with sweet soy and lemon, crab with sweet pork, green papaya and betel leaves, yellow curry with Five Founders grass-fed beef, kipflers and cucumber relish, and fried whole market fish with caramelised turmeric, pineapple and fried basil. Short Grain’s store stocks everything from yellow-bean soy dressing and soy mirin dressings to cooked-out curry pastes with protein.
sAme sAme, Fortitude Valley: When beloved Fortitude Valley icon LONgTIME closed, we thought we’d never be able to sample the eatery’s widely acclaimed take on Thai ever again. Thankfully that wasn’t to be the case – as soon as LONgTIME announced its closure the team revealed plans for a successor called sAme sAme coming to Ada Lane. LONgTIME’s culinary identity has been transferred across to sAme sAme, with some tantalising new dishes weaved in next to the beloved favourites. Snacks such as prawn larb tacos, pad prik king chicken wings and LONgTIME’s chicken burger share menu space with coconut and turmeric curry of Moreton Bay bug, twice-cooked lamb shank massaman curry, and roasted pork belly pad see ew. LONgTIME may no longer reign supreme, but sAme sAme is as good a successor as one could hope for.
Jumbo, Brisbane City: Tucked away above the bustle of Elizabeth Street, Jumbo aims to deliver a harmonious melding of Thai culture and cuisine. The 140-seat restaurant is situated on level one of the Embassy Chambers and takes some inspirational cues from interstate restaurants such as Sailors Thai, Long Chim, Chin Chin and Longrain. Jumbo’s menu as a whole favours locally sourced proteins, including sustainable seafood, organic free-range poultry and premium Queensland beef. We suggest you start with snacks such as grilled-in-the-shell Queensland scallops or crispy house-made rice-flour tacos filled with pulled pork and hand-shredded coconut, then progress to the main affair. Larger plates include shredded banana blossom topped with coconut-milk poached organic chicken and local banana prawns, char-grilled Tasmanian Cape Grim striploin marinated in seasoned herb paste, and southern yellow Thai curry with betel leaf and Western Australian sand-crab chunks.
Pawpaw and Pawpaw Asian Kitchen, various locations: The name Pawpaw is synonymous with top-notch Thai, with two locations dishing up a take on the cuisine in different settings. Pawpaw Cafe in Woolloongabba is a beloved favourite for locals craving excellent Thai-infused brunch, lunch and dinner. Regulars rave about dishes like the chilli popcorn chicken coated in Thai spices, the signature roti canai infused with eggplant, potato, pumpkin and coriander, and beef-cheek massaman curry – and there’s plenty more to discover. Pawpaw Asian Kitchen in Balmoral is more of a casual neighbourhood local, but like its cafe sibling the menu is flavour packed. If you’re dining here (or placing an order to take away), we suggest sampling the spicy pork belly, crispy fried fish fillet topped with tamarind, or the red curry with roasted duck, tomato, capsicum, lychee and pineapple.
Mekhong, Wynnum: If you’re after a contemporary interpretation of traditional Thai flavours, the phenomenal array of choices at Mekhong is right up your alley. Mekhong’s Isan-inspired dishes are based on family recipes, and include the likes of vegetable and potato karri puffs, seafood keaw coco curry served in a whole young coconut, kang pad ped red curry with roasted duck and chicken pad see ew.
Mons Thai, Camp Hill: This suburban Thai destination has been highly acclaimed for its sharp fusion of traditional and modern Thai influences. The dine-in menu offers plenty to choose from, including a rich penang curry with king prawns, pad prik khing with soft-shell crab and crispy fried market fish stir-fried with pineapple, capsicum & onion.
Phat Elephant, Brisbane City: Located in Post Office Square, Phat Elephant adds a splash of authentic Thai to Brisbane’s culinary melting pot. Loosen your belt buckles because this menu has got some serious eats to try. Tangy Thai papaya salads make for a great start, followed by mains such as red duck curry with pineapple and lychee, crispy soft-shell crab, drunken noodle chicken and crispy king prawns.
Phat Boy, Brisbane City: The Phat Elephant crew expanded its Phat family in 2019 with Phat Boy at Brisbane Quarter. This lively and spacious restaurant celebrates comfortable, cheeky and considered Thai hospitality, taking the cuisine higher up the culinary ladder without sacrificing any casual charm. Salivation-inducing signatures include the famous kung tung (a shareable seafood feast that is poured onto the table), yellow curry with duck and sweet potato, Pad Thai served wrapped in an egg net, DIY papaya salad and build-your-own san choi bow.
Ping Pong, Newstead: Step inside this vibrant Thai eatery and you’ll be greeted by vivid pink hues and a menu of full-on flavours. Head chef Khanittha ‘Bowyo’ Muangsong has taken a multi-sensory approach to the menu, which includes betel-leaf wraps, beef-cheek massaman curry, lamb-neck rendang, wild-caught-prawn curry and sticky beef short ribs. If you love chef Bowyo’s cooking, you should know that she is also responsible for the Thai-influenced eats at West End cafe Morning After.
Siam Samrarn, West End: This favourite has been cooking since 2008, with lavish hand-carved furnishings, a waterfall feature and Thai gazebo aesthetic setting a sophisticated scene. The food is just as good – Moreton Bay bug curries, roasted duck red curry, chicken-and-pumpkin panang and steamed squid with chilli and lemon are just some must-try specialties.
My Thai Restaurant, Auchenflower: Since 1993, My Thai Restaurant’s owner Busara has been feeding locals a heralded selection of exuberant dishes, combining all of Thai cuisine’s signature flavours. Must-try items include the fluffy fish cakes, the rich gaeng kari (yellow curry), garlic chicken, lamb with sweet basil and the warm lemongrass salad with tiger prawns.
Banana Leaf Thai Restaurant, East Brisbane and Camp Hill: With two handy locations to choose from, Banana Leaf Thai is a reliable (and damn good) option when hankering for a Thai fix. The menu boasts mouth-watering choices like prawns in hot-and-sour sauce, marinated grilled-chicken burgers, slow-cooked pork belly with tom yum sauce and pan-fried barramundi with green-curry sauce and kipfler potatoes.
Red Galanga Asian Cuisine, Norman Park: Red Galanga has been in operation since 2011, which means it has more than a decade of experience serving up exceptional Thai eats. In addition to crowd-favourite curries, wok dishes and noodle dishes, the kitchen serves must-try house specials including crispy pork belly with kailan, crispy king prawns with chilli mayo, barramundi with green apple salad and crispy roasted duck lathered in plum sauce.
Boo’s Kitchen, Woolloongabba: Bussakorn, known as Boo to friends and family, is the brain behind Boo’s Kitchen – a popular spot for flavours from Thailan’s Isan region. Isan cuisine is about sharing and coming together around a meal, and Boo’s Kitchen’s menu is great for splitting amongst your loved ones. Favourites include wagyu steak with hot dipping sauce, Isan-style salmon custard, chopped duck breast salad and Laos-style sausages.
Kinn+Derm, Chermside: The Kinn Group have a stack of venues around town worth a visit (Pochana in The City, Kinn Thai in Mount Gravatt), but Kinn+Derm encapsulates the group’s vision of Thai hospitality. The colourful interiors are complemented by a spectrum of dishes including DIY duck san choy bau, grilled pork ribs, crispy whole barramundi, tom kha kai soup and nam-tok wagyu beef.
Heart Thai Food, Milton: The venue formerly known at My Thai Kitchen has been operating since 2010, and has over the years blossomed into one of Brisbane’s best Thai spots. Heart Thai Food really puts the love into its menu, selecting only the best ingredients such as Daintree Barramundi and produce from Milton Fruit Bowl. Lap up laksa, devour duck curry or wolf down wok-fried pad pak – there is no wrong choice here.
Chai Thai, New Farm: New Farm locals regularly flock to handy corner restaurant Chai Thai for a weekly feed, and it’s easy to see why. The menu is stacked with authentic and cherished recipes, from the panang chicken curry and seafood laksa to salt and pepper calamari salad and the classic pad Thai.
Tosakan Thai Restaurant, Chermside: Brisbane’s north is home to an abundance of local Thai eateries, but if you’re struggling to choose then Tosakan Thai Restaurant is a great pick. Authentic tastes are key here, with chef’s specials including salivation-inducing meals like Thai style deep-fried chicken with lemon mayonnaise sauce, sizzling stir-fried lamb with chilli sauce, snow peas and pineapple, and chicken and water chestnut wonton parcels.
Thai Chada, Grange: The rave reviews keep rolling in for this neighbourhood mainstay. Regulars are known to go gaga for Thai Chada’s soups, sweet and spicy panang curry, pad kee mao and in-house made barbecue-pork nam phick pow.
Honourable mentions: There are almost too many top Thai spots to list here, but special mention must be made of Modern Thai Restaurant in Mount Gravatt, Siam Square in New Farm, Holy Basil in Windsor, Golden Buddha in Seven Hills, Chaa-Ba Thai Cafe in Chermside West, Spicy I’m Thai in Paddington, Siri Thai in Alderley, Thaiways in Albion, Newstead’s Ruean Phae Thai Restaurant, Sing’s Asian Kitchen in Rosalie and Coorparoo, Jao Jorm Thai Restaurant in Moorooka, and Siam Sensations in Nundah.
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