AS winter begins to bite, I naturally gravitate towards curries, super-strength lager and long johns.
I hibernate in my middle-class cave with a giant flat-screen TV, watching Wimbledon and awaiting the first buds of spring like a domesticated bear.
I’ve clearly had too many hot toddies, but you get my drift – it’s the kind of weather where you crave spicy, comfort food.
Step forward Sala Thai, which has been serving “superior” Thai cuisine in Fremantle for years.
The Norfolk Street restaurant gets good word-of-mouth, so I wanted to see if it lived up to the water cooler-hype.
I wasn’t fully over covid yet, so it was one last takeaway before returning to civilization and the land of the living next week (well maybe that’s pushing it in Freo on weekdays).
Sala Thai’s UberEats menu had a compact range of curries, soups, stir fry, salads and desserts.
Nothing out-there or experimental, but all the Thai classics were covered.
I quite fancied the Nam Tok (grilled marinated beef scotch fillet served with spicy hot sauce $27.50) but often these kind of dishes are better eaten in-house and I couldn’t go past the Duck Breast Red Curry ($33).
Duck isn’t something I tend to buy from the supermarket, so I like to give it whirl when I’m getting takeaway.
Sala Thai’s version was an indulgent delight. The dish was expensive, but it was teeming with high-quality tender duck that melted in your mouth.
The cherry tomatoes and lychees refreshed the palate, while the red capsicum added a nice texture.
So far so good, but what about the sauce?
I order my mine ‘mild’ and it was a creamy delight with just the right level of heat and a judicious blend of fragrant spices.
By the time you added in the jasmine rice ($4) it was quite dear, but it was a top-notch dish.
Across the table, Bamm-Bamm and Pebbles were sharing a Pad Thai ($22).
It was a huge portion crammed with tender chicken, and there was still another serve left after they had shared it.
Pad Thai can be the culinary equivalent of Better Homes and Gardens – a bland meaningless void – but this was a tasty incarnation with a zesty lemon tang and a nice mix of beansprouts, peanuts and chives.
My wife rounded things off with her all-time favourite dish – Thai Green Curry ($21.50).
She says it’s the litmus test for any Thai restaurant, no matter how sophisticated or effete they become.
“It’s a cracker – tender chicken and a thick creamy sauce that has just enough heat,” she says.
“The veggies in there are fine, but it’s really the chicken and that moreish sauce that are the stars.
“The steamed jasmine rice is perfect: fragrant with just the right stickiness.”
Sala Thai definitely lived up to the water cooler hype.
Takeaway from these sort of places can add up, but the quality and portion size was there.
As I basked in the mellow curry after-glow, I heard swearing on the TV and looked up to see Nick Kyrgios assaulting some grass with his racquet.
Winter is definitely here.
22 Norfolk Street, Fremantle
by STEPHEN POLLOCK