- Does Sydney need another Thai restaurant? Apparently so if the number of people at Hornsby’s new Thai arrival is anything to go by.
Down a side street opposite the RSL car park and up a flight of stairs, Absolute Thai which opened in July and is the second Absolute Thais to appear in Hornsby, is not the easiest of places to find. We stumbled upon its takeaway kitchen a few doors away first, before being directed to the right spot.
On Saturday at 6.30 this vast new 200 seat arrival in Hornsby’s busy dining space was packed with families enjoying an early dinner, many Asian, with little kids enjoying a night out with parents. By 8pm the place got a lot quieter as families were replaced by couples and adult groups.
Greeted by the owner Kittipos Kaewprasit, he explained many of the dishes “came from my mother’s kitchen. She would cook them for me as a little boy and I wanted to replicate that here – authentic Thai food cooked with mostly locally sourced ingredients.”
In fact Kitti was off to Bangkok the next day to visit his 85 year-old mum Kruaphan, still cooking for her son, who escapes to his homeland once a year on a health pilgrimage.
We are sat next to a delicately-drawn 3 metre-long black and white mural which took a talented member of staff two months to painstakingly create. Featuring the Sydney Harbour Bridge mingling with the Rama 8 bridge in Bangkok and various other cross-cultural references, it depicts a meeting of two cultures and worth coming to see this work of art alone.
The 71 dish menu is vast and encompasses all aspects of Thai cuisine from the usual fried fare for starters – Money Bags, Spring Rolls, Tempura Prawns and Salt and Pepper Squid which were all lightly battered and delicious, through to soups, salads, curries, house specialities, noodle and rice based dishes and dessert.
You can even take a wander down street food lane with a Thai Street Food section of the menu, a little cheaper than other mains.
After our crunchy starters came the main events – Black Pepper Soft Shell Crab which was crunchy, golden and moreish, coming unusually with a host of small vegetables on the plate like baby corn, spinach and bean shoots, so you didn’t have to order a side of vegies to get your greens.
My fellow diners chose Chicken Pad Thai which its sweet-toothed recipient remarked was tasty “though too sweet”, while another’s Lamb Pad Keen Mao also packed with vegetables was “flavoursome” – she’d requested no chilli and chef had obliged.
The Duck 5 Spices had been marinated in a spice blend imported from Bangkok – the upshot was a tender and slow cooked duck leg my husband enjoyed carving himself.
The only disappointment was the Pla Tod, deep fried Barramundi – it was overcooked and grey, and not at all crunchy.
A highlight was the sweet of the day – a blue sago pudding that looked very much like blue
caviar (the blue comes, Kitti told me, from the Butterfly Pea flower) which was doused in a little coconut cream and had a sweet and salty flavour with some crunchiness inside, an exciting marriage of flavours and textures. The others feasted on creamy coconut, mango and rum ‘n’ raisin ice creams, all refreshing and cooling after Thai spices.
Other than the mural, concrete floors, a black ceiling and simple wooden tables and chairs give the place a contemporary feel and keep it on trend, appealing to the wide demographic of diners – 60% Aussie and 40% Asian.
For food that’s the real Thai deal, Absolute Thai delivers on flavour, authenticity and good value for money. Just look out for those stairs or you may go hungry.
Shop 5, 2 William Street, Hornsby
Te;: 9482 1259
Open: everyday. Lunch from 11.30am – 3.30pm,
Dinner from 5.00pm – 10.00pm