20 Duncan St, Fortitude Valley
This week was supposed to be a budget-friendly week of eating at home. Be that as it may, one too many stressful clinic sessions triggers the brain to protest "No! I don't want to cook tonight."
We were in the mood for something casual and relaxed. In fact, we were already through the door to a certain Malaysian restaurant in the city when we realized it was cash only and the two of us did not have any cash. It also happened that the nearest ATM was back the way we came so on the trek there, it occurred to me that I wasn't really in the mood for Malaysian food.
A good 30min or so was spent analyzing what exactly did I want to have for dinner. After figuring out that the criteria was 'something spicy - not Indian', Thai food came to mind and 'Eureka!' that was it. Only problem was, we didn't know of any Thai restaurants in the CBD.
I'm not saying that there aren't any. It's just that my food brain has a habit of blanking out whenever it's put on the spot. I do mentally catalog many restaurants and eateries that I'd like to go to but on many occasions now, as soon as I question myself with 'where would I like to go?' - I have no idea.
We didn't know if there'd be any Thai food in the Valley either but common sense told us that it was more likely. So we jumped on a bus and headed that way. During the bus trip, Charlie came through with an answer - he remembered he HAD been to a Thai restaurant in Chinatown and it was 'good'.
Once we got to the Valley, it wasn't difficult to locate the restaurant - Thai Wi-Rat, Thai and Laos food. We were early. Very early. It was maybe 5pm, maybe just a bit earlier when we got there and so they were still getting themselves organized and there weren't any other customers around. To their credit, only 10min after we were seated, another customer had entered and sure enough, there was a slow but steady stream of customers. We were out of there before 6 so we didn't see what their peak time was like.
Thai Wi-Rat has an oddly furnished interior. Thick stone table tops and dark lacquered chairs are an unusually posh way to deck out a relatively small and cozy dining space. As a result, I felt like I was sitting in someone's house - you know those people who really like this style of furnishing? I like that the area was really well lit though. Thumbs up for that.
The system is that you get menus and choose your own seats. Once you've decided what you'd like to order, you go back to the cashier, order and pay. You bring back a table number and it's table service from there on. I don't mind that kind of system. Any restaurant where I can eat, finish and leave fits my busy weekday schedule.
As for food, we chose 2 drinks (Thai milk tea), a duck curry and a chicken pad Thai to share, along with 2 bowls of rice. Most pages of the menu have a selection of dishes where you chose the main ingredient - beef, chicken, pork, duck or vegetarian. That was the case for the stir-fries, the curry and the noodles (with the noodles, you could also chose the type of noodle). The main meat of the dish determines the price and trust me, prices are really good. Under $11 for a chicken curry or stir-fry. More for duck.
Drinks came first. Thai milk tea is officially my favorite milk tea now. It kicks the bum of conventional Asian milk teas (HK style or Taiwanese style). I don't know what they put in it or why it's orange but it's additively good. Very sweet but oddly refreshing.
Food arrived SUPER fast. Our table was a bit small so we had a difficult task getting everything to fit on. That's just our fault for picking the corner.
I dug into the curry first. It's described as a creamy curry and it sure is creamy. The flavors are gorgeous but I'm kicking myself for choosing duck meat to go with it. The curry is good and duck is a nice meat but the two just don't go well together. For one thing, the curry sauce is so creamy and rich, you really don't want a fatty meat like duck to be swimming around in it. I found myself avoiding the duck pieces. Charlie got full from the sauce really quickly and declared it to be TOO creamy but I secretly loved it.
My first few tastes of the pad Thai weren't that impressive. I thought it tasted a bit fishy for some reason (maybe the bean sprouts?) but after a while it grew on me. It wasn't the best pad Thai I had for reasons of flavor. In terms of 'contents', the chicken and tofu pieces were quite prominent. I REALLY enjoyed the pad Thai mixed with a bit of the curry sauce and coconut rice.
I'll make a brief mention of the coconut rice too - it didn't have a strong coconut flavor but I liked the consistency. I think they used short grain rice and it seemed even slightly glutinous. It went well with the curry, that's for sure.
Next time I go, I think 1 curry and 1-2 bowls of rice would be enough for us. The curry looks deceptively normal-sized but in the same principle of wagyu beef being extremely filling (and therefore coming in smaller cuts than other steak), the curry we chose is so rich that a small amount was enough to satisfy us. Not sure if the same goes for the other types of curry they offer. Anyway, we ended up with a full take-away box (they're 50c by the way. My parents would have freaked out - it's their pet hate to have to pay for take-away boxes).
It was budget-friendly, satisfying food with an extra meal for the next day. Exactly what we needed.