Siam’s a star

17. 26FOODSTAR OF SIAM, Fremantle

by JENNY D’ANGER:

When Fremantle upmarket noshery the Essex closed it was a sad day in my opinion, even if the place did have a tired air about it towards the end.

Star of Siam moved into the revamped restaurant last year and after trying it recently I’m hoping it’s here to stay.

Dressed in national costume our red-pantalooned waiter was so cheery—and cute—that I wanted to take him home. When not waiting tables he trains as a chef, revealing he’s been cooking since he was seven in his hometown of Chiang Mai.

A makeover has transformed the faded Essex’s decor with tastefully subtle nods to Thai culture contrasting with the muted decor.

Traditional

Owner Shane Jiraboon has 20 years’ experience running restaurants in Sydney and Queensland.

The menu is traditional Thai, the way his mum used to cook, and her mum before that, he says.

Upon arrival we were apprehensive on Shane’s behalf as there was just one other diner, an older man loudly slurping soup and making smacking noises as he chewed on prawn crackers.

Fortunately he left before our food arrived, and the restaurant slowly filled, making it a good night for all.

Having skipped lunch I was ravenous so we ordered an entree apiece.

For me it was the barbecue octopus, while D’Angerouse went with old favourite Thai fish cakes ($11.90 each).

My tiny cephalopod were sweetly flavoursome, with just a hint of salty barbecueness: The chilli sauce it came with really zinged up the tongue.

The fish cakes were perfect, just the right consistency with a divine undercurrent of lemon grass and coriander.

We’d barely licked the plates clean when the jasmine rice arrived, followed by a red curry and a panang vegetable curry ($19.90 each).

They were subtly different and fantastic. Sweetened by palm sugar the panang was richer, but milder, while the red curry was less sweet and warmer on the tongue, but not hot—although you can ask for more chilli.

Despite feeling replete we enviously watched a diner tuck into a whole barbecued fish.

In town on business he’d eaten there the night before and was happy to return.

A huge fan of Thai food he reckoned the fish was the best he’d ever eaten, describing it as “brilliant”.

“Next time,” we mused.

Up for a tummy-stretching challenge we opted for the coconut custard and pumpkin dessert ($6.90).

It arrived as a solid slice, topped with cold, diced pumpkin.

D’Angermouse was pulling faces until he tried it, and was then all smiles.

Oddly, while Thai curries have a pleasing sweetness this dessert wasn’t overly sweet, making it all the more refreshing.

Full to bursting we headed into the cold night, warmed by good food, broad smiles and calls of “sawatdee” (Thai for both hello and goodbye).

Star of Siam
20 Essex Street, Fremantle
9336 5326
7 days for dinner
BYO, $2 corkage  

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