– By Beverley Reinemann
Sydney is home to some of the most amazing beaches, stunning scenery and greatest attractions in the world. You can’t come here without taking a train to Circular Quay to marvel at the Opera House or the Harbour Bridge, and you certainly can’t miss a trip to Bondi Beach – but there’s something else that this city also does really well… Thai food!
It’s not swanky, pretentious, over-priced Thai food though like you’d expect in a city this huge, it’s budget-friendly, contemporary, fresh Thai food usually served in big portions with even bigger smiles.
Granted, it’s more expensive to eat out in Australia than it is in Thailand, but if it’s Thai food you’re passionate about then you’ll never go hungry. Here’s my pick of the best Thai restaurants in Sydney…
1. Thai Express
Situated in the massive World Square building, Thai Express manages to combine an up-market dining experience and excellent service with cheap food and big flavours. In short; the green curry’s hot enough to blow your socks off but won’t blow the budget!
Entrees start at about €4, with the average main meal only setting you back about €8 and you can get a beer or glass of wine for a pretty average €5. Rock up early to bag yourself a seat or book a table on a weekend – this place gets busy!
Thai Express: Shop 30, 644 George St
2. Thai Foon
Perfectly presented, authentic Thai food, an extensive vegetarian menu and a stunning view of the city; this is the place you come to for food with a view! Share the duck pancakes (3 for €11) with your friends, then try the creamy red prawn curry (€17) – the service isn’t superfast but when the food comes it’s worth the wait.
This place is buzzing on a weekend which fits well with the funky decor and, although it’s definitely not the most budget-friendly Thai in Sydney, the views are definitely worth it!
Thai Foon: Harbourside Shopping Centre, Shop 328-331, Darling Harbour
3. The Best Thai
With four locations across Sydney, The Best Thai mainly caters for the lunchtime, cheap-and-cheerful crowd where, between a very generous 11am – 4pm, you can get a huge chicken, pork, vegetarian or beef dish for as little as €6!
That said, they’re also open in the evening where the mains prices range from €8 – €15 and they also deliver. The Victoria St and Leichhardt locations both have gorgeous courtyards where you can dine al fresco but only the former has a liquor license and the William St store gets super busy on a Friday lunchtime!
Check out the hot and spicy flat noodles and see how many chillis you can handle or go for something traditional like a huge plate of Pad Thai.
The Best Thai: 261 Victoria St, Darlinghurst/62 Norton St, Leichhardt/668 New South Head Road, Rose Bay and 1/185 Cnr Bourke & William St, Darlinghurst
4. Thanon KhaoSan
If you’re thinking “wait, a Thai restaurant named after one of the most famous streets in Bangkok must be good,” then you’d be right!
Not only does Thanon KhaoSan serve up delicate starters (€2- €8) and noodle dishes and sumptuous soups and curries (€10-€12) but the setting’s about as authentic as you’re going to get in the middle of Sydney’s CBD; low stools and tables, tin cups for your water, a wall made entirely from Thai license plates and a tuk tuk parked at the front door.
The lighting’s dim, the cocktails are €7.50 and the food is fresh, fabulous and served with a smile.
Thanon KhaoSan: 413 Pitt St, Haymarket
5. Chat Thai
There are various Chat Thai’s Takeaways scattered around Sydney but the restaurant in Haymarket is really the place to be.
True, you’re guaranteed to have to wait for a table but scribble your name on the makeshift reservations list stuck outside and watch the chefs do their thing in front of a pavement audience. Once you get inside and try the food it becomes clear why the queues are always so long; some say it’s the best Thai in Sydney, albeit probably the smallest!
If chillis aren’t your thing, try a savoury dish like a Massaman beef curry (€9) then give in to your sweet tooth with their signature mango sticky rice dessert (€6). The service isn’t always perfect but, when the waitresses are rushed off their feet, it’s easy to understand why. Try nipping in at lunch to beat the crowds!
Chat Thai; 20 Campbell St, Haymarket
Author bio: Beverley Reinemann is the writer and marketing graduate behind the Pack Your Passport travel blog who left England in June 2010 with her boyfriend of six years to embark on a life on long-term travel through Australia, New Zealand, Asia and beyond, hoping to inspire other twenty-somethings and face her fears along the way! Follow her journey on Twitter and Facebook.
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Thanks to avlxyz for the image off Flickr. Please note all images were used under the Creative Commons License at the time of posting.