16 April 2010

PhuThai Esarn Restaurant, Cambridge Tce

Just a quick post for today on the lunch E and I had the other day at PhuThai Esarn Restaurant on Cambridge Terrace. I was going to wait to blog about it till I'd been back for dinner, but I'm eating leftover takeaway pad thai right now*, and it's making me want to write about this place.

I'd wanted to try PhuThai ever since I noticed it at its old location on Majoribanks St last year. When I got back from my travels overseas I was pleasantly surprised to see it had moved closer to my house, replacing the old Thai Panom restaurant that used to be at that Cambridge Terrace spot. They've spruced the place up quite a bit, with red walls and colourful decorations. An inviting space, but even more inviting the other day was the sign out front advertising their $10 lunch menu.

So, in we went. It was a bit empty** but our waiter (the owner, perhaps?) was friendly, prompt and attentive, and we were able to place our orders right away.***

E's basil chicken ($10), stir-fried chicken and vegetables with fresh basil leaves and hot Thai chillies, tasted fresh and flavourful. He had requested it to be spicy, and wasn't disappointed - the fresh chillies gave it a satisfying, lingering heat.

I ordered the tom yum goong ($10), a decent lunch-sized portion of hot and sour soup with mushrooms, onions and prawns. I want to say that this was the best tom yum soup I've had outside of Thailand, though to be honest I usually stick to curries and other non-soup dishes at Thai restaurants so I can't really say if it's the best in Wellington.

Regardless, it was undeniably good. The combination of lemongrass and lime juice flavouring the broth gave it an almost hauntingly sour-sweet hit and there were enough sliced chillies in there to make my brow sweat and my eyes water (NB: I had requested it spicy) but that didn't stop me from finishing every last drop. The prawns were succulent, not overcooked, and the mushrooms plump and juicy.

Both lunch dishes came with complimentary rice and salad, which was a nice touch. I'm excited to go back and try their dinner menu; they specialise in Esarn dishes (from Northeastern Thailand), of which I'm a particular fan. And I can verify that my takeaway chicken pad thai from last night was of a good standard. It probably won't be long before I blog about this place again!

(I'll reserve the rating for when I've been there more than once, and have tried their dinner menu as well)

PhuThai Esarn Restaurant
35-38 Cambridge Tce (former Thai Panom Restaurant; previously located at 21 Majoribanks St)
(04) 801 5006


Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm
Dinner: 7 days 5pm-late

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*Leftovers for breakfast = sometimes the best kind of breakfast.
** It was not at all empty when I went in last night around 7:30 to pick up my takeaway, however.
*** Because the worst thing when eating in an empty-ish restaurant is when the staff lose focus and forget that you're there.


Ali said...

Hey - have just stumbled across your blog and loving it! I live in Mt Vic and it's great to read about places I've been, and not been to. Haven't yet tried Phoenician Falafel but will definitely give it ago, perhaps tonight!

This Thai restaurant is great - I went there regularly when it was on Majoribanks, and now it's a bit further away, and the prices have gone up significantly. Have only been there once since they moved and food was still great but I got a shock at the new prices.. They are always friendly there - fabulous service.

A suggestion for a place to try - I haven't had time to go back to the beginning of your blog and see if you've tried this place, but my favourite takeaway is actually Taste of India on Cambridge Tce - just next door to the YHA. It's so dodgy looking but the butter chicken is absolutely delicious. Would love to hear what you think of it if you've not given it a try before..


millie mirepoix said...

Hi Alison - thanks for the lovely comment :)

I noticed the price increase too, but hadn't been to the old one (the new location is closer to me, hooray!). Have you been to the Malaysian place on Majoribanks (I think it's in this place's old spot)? I just noticed it the other day and am curious..

I haven't actually ever been to Taste of India but had a flatmate who used to swear by it. Plus I walk by it all the time and have been meaning to try, so thanks for the recommendation- might do it this week!

Ali said...

I have been to the Malaysian place that replaced the Thai place twice.. Once when they first opened and I had the mee goreng - portion was much smaller than I had expected and there wasn't a lot of flavour. So I thought - hey, they've only just opened, and the girl who served me was lovely, so I'll go back in a few weeks and give them another try. I enjoyed my second meal even less - it was some sort of chicken curry - again, a very small portion, no flavour, and served on a soggy bed of iceberg lettuce. So not really a fan, I have to say..! Really enjoying your blog by the way :)

millie mirepoix said...

Hmm, that's a shame! It's always a bit hit & miss with new places too. Oh well, my curiosity has subsided somewhat - thanks for sharing :)