Sunday, 3 February 2008

Thai Wi Rat

I have been meaning to make it along to Thai Wi Rat for ages. Its considered by many to serve the most authentic Thai food in Brisbane.

Thai Wi Rat is in the Chinatown Mall in the Valley. It has seating both inside and out in the mall.

We arrived at 7.30 on a Friday night, and it was pretty busy. We had booked a table outside, but it was pretty hard to grab a free waiter to be seated. So we just joined the line up at the front counter. At Thai Wi Rat, you line up and place your order at the counter. Eventually we got to the front of the line and were seated at our table outside. It was worth booking though, because we ended up at the only table with a tablecloth and place setting, which is a nice touch.

The menu here is a fair bit longer than most Thai restaurants in Brisbane. It also has a few Laotian dishes, which you probably won't find anywhere else in Brisbane. The menu covers soup, "special dishes", grilled dishes, Thai style salads, uncooked salads, Laos style salads, stir fries, curries, single dishes (ie with rice), stir fried noodles and noodle soups. With all those options, it will take you a little while to decide. Everything is priced very well - the most expensive thing on the menu is the Surin set for $22.90, but most other main dishes are between $9.90 and $14.90.

Despite the otherwise extensive menu, the entree selection is a bit limited, so I went for the chicken satays ($6.90 for 4). These were good, as was the satay sauce. The thing with chicken satays though is that they are very rarely bad. They're usually pretty tasty, and even if the chicken isn't the best, you can usually smother them with sauce until they are great.

We also had a vegetarian tom yum soup ($6.90). This was ok, but lacked the real spicy and sour tanginess of a great tom yum. It did have plenty of fresh vegetables in it though.

Unfortunately, there was a very long wait until our starters came out. We sat at our table for an hour before even the tom yum soup came out. Not only did the tom yum come out then, but so did the panang curry, one of our main courses, together with the sticky rice we had also ordered for main course. We told the waiter that the panang curry was a main course, but she didn't seem the slightest bit concerned and it just stayed on the table. The next thing that came out was my entree. So the panang curry and rice sat on our table, cooling down all the time while we ate our entrees. Luckily it was a typically warm Brisbane summer night.

When you get to mains, there are plenty to choose from. Some of the more interesting dishes are grilled whole Thai catfish served with Thai E-san sauce ($14.90), grilled Laos style pork sausage ($9.90), steamed boneless chicken feet Thai salad ($13.90), duck mince Laos style salad ($13.90) and the great sounding cracking pork on rice ($9.90). There really is a huge selection of mains. The menu also has plenty of pictures just in case you're not sure what the dish you're thinking about might actually look like.

Given the great selection, I decided to try something new, and went with the pork guay teaw lard na or Thai gravy sauce ($9.90). This dish had plenty of fresh vegetables, flat rice noodles and was served in a fairly thick, Thai gravy. It was tasty enough, but not spectactular.

We also had the vegetable panang curry ($9.90) as I mentioned above. This contained pretty much the same fresh vegetables as the tom yum sauce. It was in the more fragrant, rather than richer, style of Thai curries and was good, but again not fantastic.

With mains, you also have a selection of steamed jasmine rice or sticky rice. We ordered some of the sticky rice, which comes out in great thatched kind of container. It is very sticky stuff, and needs a bit of sauce on it to break it up. Still, it made a good change from the plain steamed rice we usually order.

The most disappointing part of the night however was the service. Waiting an hour for 4 chicken satay sticks and a small bowl of tom yum soup is a bit over the top. Our bottle of white wine also sat on the table for the night without a cooler. Maybe we just picked the wrong time of the week to go, but service could definitely be improved.

Thai Wi Rat is both licenced and BYO. They have a good selection of beers, including Singha, but the wine choice is pretty limited. If you are after a bottle of wine with your Thai, then its probably a good idea to bring it along yourself.

It's also excellent value. Our dinner was $38, for two entrees, two mains, rice and a soft drink. The servings are pretty generous for the price as well.

Overall, the food at Thai Wi Rat was good, but not exceptional. Maybe I was expecting too much, given all that I'd read about it. I'll certainly be going back to give it another try, as there are plenty of dishes on the menu I've never come across before. Next time, we'll head back with plenty of friends, so we can get a good cross-section of the menu.

What does all this mean? A great selection of interesting Thai and Laotian food at excellent prices, but the service needs improving.

food bling ratings
Food - Good
Service - Poor
Ambience - Relaxed outdoor seating
Value for money - Top Shelf
Wine - Very limited selection
Vegetarian - Great

Thai Wi Rat
Shop 48, Duncan Street
China Town Mall
Fortitude Valley 4006
P - 07 3257 0884

Thai Wi-Rat on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

I would say they are not consistently excellent when it comes to everything on their menu. A Thai friend once commented that their curries are only so-so. But their Lao/Issan(Northeast Thailand) dishes, are what I keep coming back for, so give them a try again one day. They often don't skimp on the chillies as well, which makes for an interesting and authentic Thai dining experience.

food bling, Brisbane said...

I've been a bit slack in getting back to Thai Wi Rat. I'll have to pop in next time we're in the Valley to get through some more of the menu.