Red Opium

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It’s tricky locating Red Opium on your first visit, but your efforts are rewarded with the innovative fusion dishes created by Thai chef Jak. There aren’t many restaurants in Perth located in a basement, so that’s another thing that sets this place apart.  Our  group of six agreed that we wanted to sample a cross section of dishes and opted for the $52pp Full Monty set menu. How could anyone resist a name like that?

The chilli crab dip was the opening event, and this featured crab meat and egg in a curry sauce, served with baguette. This was a perfect sharing dish and enabled us to get a feel for the dishes that were to follow.

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Our first tapas dish was a picture perfect set of freshly shucked oysters with chilli and lime, served in shot glasses. These little beauties were downed in a matter of seconds.

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Sashimi-grade salmon ceviche served with onions, chilli and wasabi was our second tapas choice, and continued the pleasant light spiced theme.

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Our Full Monty menu included four mains and the groups agreed on a mix of dishes that seemed to please everyone. After a few glasses of red and a top up of Dutch courage, the guys in our group were eager to extend the Full Monty theme and entertain the other patrons with a makeshift floor show. Must have been something about dining in a cellar with red lighting and gauzy curtains that induced that harebrained idea, but fortunately the arrival of the mains put the guys’ attention back on the food.

The roast duck red curry with lychees and vegetables was rich and creamy with a meld of fine flavours.  This satisfying dish of lush crispy skinned duck meat, combined with the sweetness of lychees and the zing of fresh herbs, was a favourite at our table.  I have to qualify this and say I still haven’t found a version to match the one Galangal Thai Cuisine produces. I guess Galangal’s red duck curry is my yardstick, and I can’t help but compare it to every other Thai restaurant’s version. This is not a negative reflection on Red Opium by any means; it’s just that this dish is one of my all time favourites and comparisons are inevitable for me.

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The Masaman beef curry was a hit with the guys – being all meaty and peanutty. I only had a potato, but managed with that to get a good a taste of the sauce which was redolent with tamarind, peanuts and coconut and a hint of cardamon.

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Our next main was Pad Cha chicken, featuring  a light, mild dish of chicken pieces cooked with green peppercorns, green beans, red capsicum and herbs. This was a refreshing change from the richer coconut-based curries.

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Last but not least was another prawn dish; king prawn green curry with veggies. Different from the usual green curry, this version came with green peppercorns and a small amount of sauce, and delicious fat juicy prawns. Green curry is my least favourite Thai curry, but I did enjoy this dish which really didn’t resemble a green curry in the traditional sense.

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Once again Red Opium proved to be a positive dining experience, dishing up a repertoire of innovative and interesting food. Whilst I love traditional Thai food, I also enjoy trying Thai food that dares to be different. Thai restaurants are proliferating in Perth so it’s wonderful to see a Thai chef doing something beyond the pale that sets him apart from the crowd. I’ve dined at Red Opium about six times over the past few years and have always enjoyed their creative and flavourful food. Service is friendly and efficient, and you always get the feeling you are a valued customer. If you enjoy Thai flavours but want to experience food that marries those flavours with imagination and passion, then make a booking for Red Opium.

Red Opium Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thai Orchid, South Perth

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There aren’t too many establishments in Perth that boast views like this one, especially establishments that don’t charge a premium for the privilege. Thai Orchid in South Perth is worth a visit for this reason alone.

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Meeting a friend mid-week, there were only a few tables occupied and we were seated at the window. I was captivated by the view and it reminded me of a dining experience last year at Coco’s across the way, where the view was also amazing but the food was not.

We started with a few entrees of Thai fish cakes and golden bags. I love trying different versions of Thai fish cakes, and these were spicy and tasty, and not rubbery. It’s often considered the mark of a good fish cake to have that rubbery texture, but I really don’t enjoy that texture and prefer them to be tender and moist. The golden bags were scrumptious, with minced chicken and corn and peas all wrapped up in little fried dumplings.

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Roast duck red curry is probably my favourite Thai dish, and this version was a good one – creamy with coconut, the right amount of red curry spicing, and a generous serve of duck.

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Our other main was prawns with cashew nuts and chilli jam. This stir fried fish featured a generous amount of prawns with a good chilli kick – a very tasty, flavourful dish that we both enjoyed.

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Our dining experience cost us less than $30 each, thanks to the Entertainment card. Even without the card, this was a value-for-money dining experience. The service was good, the food – though far from the best Thai food in Perth – was still delicious. The view was priceless. I recommend you book a table with views when you visit, as that certainly enhances the whole experience.


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Galangal Thai Cuisine

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Recommended by a fellow foodie, Galangal proved to be one of the best Thai dining experiences I have had in Perth.  This compact restaurant nestled in the back streets of Vic Park is a real find. Unpretentious and with efficient service and top notch Thai food presented in a contemporary way, Galangal was a huge hit with our table of six.

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We decided on a few entrees to get the party started.  Staff kindly adjusted the serves so we could each have one of our two chosen starters. The fish cakes had a modern twist, while maintaining the traditional taste of white-fleshed fish and red curry paste. They were juicy and soft – not rubbery which is often how they are served – and came with a sweet chilli sauce, crushed cashew nuts and cucumber relish.  Yummo.

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The familiar favourite fried spring rolls were filled with minced chicken, vermicelli and cabbage. Pleasant and mild, they were also served with a chilli sauce, but everyone tucked in before I managed to get a photo. Oh well, you know what spring rolls look like!

I normally like to share plates of Thai food, but on this occasion I had eyes only for the roast duck red curry and was quite happy to have this all to myself. As it happened, everyone else felt the same and wanted to order their own dishes. We did share a plate of veggies though. The plate of wok fried greens, capsicum and bean shoots was so fresh we felt absolutely virtuous after demolishing our two fried entrees.

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Galangal has several daily specials, and the slow cooked pork belly on papaya salad was the choice of a few of my friends. They declared the pork to be succulent and tasty, although the papaya salad was a tad spicy for John.  Thais adore papaya salad, and the spicier the better. They just love those old red chillies dancing along their palates, whereas we usually need to temper the heat a bit. This dish was bursting with fresh herbs and flavour, and just feast your eyes on that crispy pork. A winning combination.

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The ever popular green chicken curry was ordered by one of our diners, and whilst I can’t vouch for the delicious factor, she assured me it was. And I guess the proof of that was in her empty plate.

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And now – drum roll please – the roast duck red curry.  I had been thinking about this dish for the entire week before we dined, and I was expecting big things.  Roast duck red curry is probably my favourite Thai dish, and I have tried many versions of it over the years.  This version – oh my.  I ate and ate till my plate was bare and my belly was bursting. The crispy skinned duck was sublimely tender, and was bathed in a dreamy creamy coconut red curry sauce. Just look at that photo. I’m salivating all over again.

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Galangal’s version of this dish is ensconced on my favourites list. An absolute standout.

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The fact that there are two sittings at Galangal every night is testament to its popularity. On the Wednesday night we went, the place was packed to the gills by 6.30, almost empty by 8.15, and full again at 8.30.  Galangal is obviously doing everything right. Our meal cost us $38 each, a bargain considering the quality and portions.

This little place is truly a find. From the amazing cuisine to the unobtrusive but efficient service, from the cosy atmosphere to the sleek modern presentation of the food, Galangal is a winner. Book a table and order the roast duck red curry. Please. You will thank me.

Galangal on Urbanspoon

Wrap N Rice Thai Cafe, North Perth

Scotty and I are always keen to try local venues where we can BYO vino, and as soon as we heard about this new Thai eatery on popular Angove St, we had to check it out. This small, cheerful venue has a steady stream of people coming in to buy takeaway food, along with others settling in on the tables both inside and outside on the pavement. No sooner had we sat, than our wine was opened and placed in an ice bucket, and a bottle of water and glasses placed on the table. We were off to an auspicious start.

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Scotty and I had to try the Thai fish cakes of course. We’ve tried countless versions of these over the years, and these were smooth, tasty discs, served with a sweet chilli dipping sauce. Happily, they were not rubbery as Thai fish cakes often are.

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Our other entree was rice paper rolls stuffed with grilled salmon and tamarind sauce. Bursting with fresh salad and herbs, these rolls were light and tasty.

Tempted as we were by the perennial Thai dish of Pad Thai, we were not to be swayed on this occasion. We opted for a red chicken curry and a prawn stir fry.

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This wasn’t a traditional Thai red curry, but rather a Westernised version without the chilli heat expected from this dish. The long strips of soft bamboo shoots were an unusual feature of this dish and despite the curry’s mild flavour, it was tasty and flavourful. This curry didn’t have the depth or complexity of flavour usually associated with a red curry, and we figured it had been adapted for Western palates.  However at this cheap and cheerful local spot, our expectations weren’t as high as they would ordinarily be, and for $14 we weren’t complaining.

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Our prawn, cashew and chilli jam stir fry was chock full of vegetables and cashews, and a generous serving of prawns. The flavours and textures were light, crunchy, and pleasing to the palate.

This little cafe turns out food that may not be for the Thai food purists, but the fresh ingredients and reasonable prices will have a faithful band of followers returning again and again. There are daily specials, and on Sundays you can pick up a Pad Thai for $12. Not much to complain about here.

As a bonus, you can pop a few metres down the road to the Old Laundry Bar for a decent coffee after your meal.  Seriously, what’s not to love about Angove St?

Wrap N Rice Thai Cafe on Urbanspoon