At Chalong, Chapel Hill’s new Thai and Southeast Asian eatery, every meal is a cause for celebration
Today, over in a cosy Chapel Hill shopping strip, two Thai expats are opening a restaurant dedicated to showcasing a modern interpretation of Thai and Southeast Asian delights. At Chalong, serves of fried turmeric cuttlefish, grilled marinated chicken skewers and Phuket-style soy-braised pork belly fill tables, while the bar dispenses ambrosial cocktails infused with Thai rum and aromatic ingredients. Take a peek inside …
With a name that translates to ‘celebrate’ in Thai, Nail Saengin and Garfield Pachnoi’s new restaurant Chalong was always going to be an eatery where a sense of fun was baked into the concept from the jump. The duo, who have been working in Australia for the past decade, have long desired to showcase their home cuisine in a way that highlighted the interactivity of Thai and Southeast Asian cuisine, blending heritage and modernity with loads of conviviality.
“We really wanted customers to feel like celebrating when they come in to dine,” says Nail. “Every time they come they can have great food and flavours – and a bit of spice!”
Nail and Garfield are set to officially lift the cloche on Chalong today, Thursday February 8, after a three-year location scouting and ideation process. The striking 45-seat restaurant space – tucked away at the end of the Metro West shops on Moggill Road in the site previously home to Royal Sri Thai Restaurant – has been cosmetically overhauled to boast a beach-inspired, slightly bohemian aesthetic. A colour scheme of neutral tones, blonde timber and cream leather banquettes creates a relaxed atmosphere, with the light of hanging lamps and twin back-lit alcoves at the bar casting warm hues across the room at night.
In the kitchen, chef Garflied (who has worked in kitchens at venues like Ping Pong and Short Grain) is executing an offering that showcases cuisine from the south of Thailand. Putting a signature spin on family recipes and regional specialties, Garfield is turning out dishes that you won’t commonly find in Brisbane. In addition to this, the chef is crafting almost everything in house, including all of the flavour-packed curry pastes and even Chalong’s own sriracha.
Chalong’s menu starts with a suite of snacks, encompassing the likes of fried turmeric cuttlefish, hatyai bites (deep-fried chicken dusted in a secret southern Thai spice mix), gai gor lae (grilled marinated chicken skewers), pork and prawn potsticker dumplings and popcorn cauliflower. From here, guests can inhale crispy chicken baos and DIY Peking duck pancakes, before turning their attention to Chalong specialties like the moo hon (Phuket-style soy-braised pork belly), lemongrass and tamarind beef rib (slow cooked for nine hours) and fried whole market fish with sweet fish sauce and salad. The menu then broadens to showcase a clutch of stir-fry dishes, curries and salads. Special mention must be made of the southern herb fritters – tempura-style betel-leaf fritters that come topped with fried chilli and crispy herbs.
Nail has overseen Chalong’s beverage program, which is anchored by an eight-strong cocktail list that puts a Thai spin on a number of classic concoctions. “We’ve tried to do a lot of Thai-inspired drinks, so we’re using a lot of ingredients from the kitchen,” says Nail. “We have Thai basil and we do house-made lemongrass kaffir lime leaf syrup as well.”
Leading the list is the signature Chalong cocktail – a refreshing number that mixes Chalong Bay rum (sustainably made in Phuket) with pineapple juice, ruby grapefruit, lime, chilli and sugar syrup. Nail has also curated a wine list featuring Jumping Juice’s amber blend, a vegan-friendly Payten and Jones chardonnay and D’Arenberg’s The Loveless organic shiraz. The beer selection mixes Australian craft brews from the likes of Sea Legs, Stone & Wood and Heads of Noosa with mainstream Asian beers from Singha, Tiger and Monsuta Okinawa Premium Draft.
Chalong is officially open from today, Thursday February 8. The restaurant will be running dinner services only for the first two weeks before introducing lunch trade later in the month. Head to the Stumble Guide for more info.
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