A few nights ago we got the opportunity to sample Sabai Thai, a new kid on the block along Church Street at the Richmond suburb. I love restaurants with an edge and Sabai Thai is uniquely so, as it offers Thai fusion by having lots of different Asian flavours to its dishes. Every dish is truly fresh and flavourful, with no MSG added, just natural flavours.
Manpreet, the owner of Sabai Thai was very welcoming as he toured us around the premises. He and his wife have been in the hospitality business for 25 years, and it took them a good amount of time to perfect its first venture, Sabai. They consider the business as a Classically Inspired Creative Thai Restaurant. What we found intriguing was their commitment to purchase fresh produce from South Melbourne Market daily to ensure high quality of food to the customers. South Melbourne Market has reputation for delivering exceptional quality of vegetables. Even if the produce from South Melbourne Market cost more to purchase as compared to its neighbouring markets along Victoria/Church Street, Manpreet believes quality ingredients will translate well onto the plate. By not using flavour enhancers, we do not have to endure long lasting feeling of thirst, only savouring freshness of each individual dishes.
There are two floors to the restaurant and we sat on the first. The first floor has seats on one side with a bar against the other. The place radiates refined yet casual vibe. The painting is an integral piece of the restaurant and customers coming in would have an idea of what Sabai Thai is trying to portray.
Thai Milk Tea, 4AUD
I love the sweet, yet not overpoweringly sweet milk tea.
Soft Shell Crab Sliders, 12AUD
We kicked off with Crab Sliders for a start. The taste of savouriness from the crab, and acidic notes from the apple slaw makes the dish a lovely entree to start our palates. Soft Shell Crabs have the tendency to be soggy but this one was absolutely crispy and delightful.
Pork Hot Dogs, 12AUD
The Pork Hot Dogs has a lovely punch of spice and aromatic flavour. The pickled green papaya that comes with adds freshness to the savoury dawg. Similar to the Soft Shell Crab Sliders above, Sabai managed to have a perfect balance between savoury, acidity, sweetness and freshness.
Pork Baby Back Ribs, 14AUD
We mouth-watered when the Pork Baby Back Ribs arrived to the table. The meat was tender and it was easy to peel out off the bone. The beautifully golden red curry glaze was cooked to perfection.
Fresh Coconut, 6AUD
The coconut was one of the freshest we’ve tried in the city. The skin was a tad bit hard to scoop off but the coconut water was superbly reinvigorating to the throat.
Pork Belly, 22AUD
The Pork Belly was twice cooked and we loved the combination of green beans, beans and broccolini against that chilli jam sauce. The pork belly has enough meat and fat, also juicy and packed with flavour. Even if you order just this dish with rice alone for a single person it would be satisfying enough for a good lunch or dinner meal.
Duck And Lychee Salad, 16AUD
The salad was crunchy, meaty and fresh all at once. There was a mixture of roasted duck, sesame, cucumber, pickled radish, onions, mint on ginger soy dressing.
Lamb Shank Massaman, 20AUD
The Lamb Shank Massaman is not so much a Thai dish but it sure had several Thai spices infused in it. This was to us the dish of the night and we loved the tenderness of the meat coming from the leg bone beneath the knee. The shank was slow braised and cooked with curry. A side of roti would be served when you order this dish. Having the roti dipped into the curry was pure excellence. My beau and I highly recommend this dish.
The steamed Barramundi was served on a clear ginger and soy sauce. The barramundi fish was imported from Queensland as told by Manpreet. As a whole, the flavour of this dish was more understated in bold flavours and perfect for those who is looking for subtlety.
This area was from the second floor of the restaurant. We adored the light fixtures used for the dining space.
Sago Pudding, 12AUD
We finished off our meals with two desserts. Manpreet recommended the Sago Pudding and we went with it. The sago pudding had a subtle sweet taste. The dehydrated mango that comes along with was a nice surprise, giving a sourish flavour to the dish. The Sago Pudding was also served with berry coulis and freeze dried berries which taste similar to berry jams. Overall this dish plays with a sweet and sour combination and we were pleased with it.
Coconut Ice Cream, 6AUD
Three lovely scoops of Coconut Ice Cream With shaved coconuts was a good way to end to our meal. The toffee crumble served was homemade and it gave the ice cream an extra punch of sweetness. This dish was an absolute palate cleanser which left us feeling refreshed after eating too much.
Sabai Thai offers a variety of Asian flavours despite its leading label of the expected ‘Thai flavours only’. Think of it as them serving Thai food with a twist. Flavours are definitely contemporary but traditional at the same time. We love the comforting ambiance and would gladly be back if time permits given the limited time I have left in Melbourne.