Thai Garden House
» 526 Church St, North Parramatta
» Verdict: Aiight 😶
Tommy H and his family went out on Saturday night for dinner in Parramatta, their destination: Temasek. Unfortunately, Temasek was completely booked out and refused to take us, even for the second round of dinner! And so, Tommy H consulted Urbanspoon for a list of recommended Thai restaurants, and found Thai Garden House, located far away from the main CBD area. It was a humble place: an old house converted into a restaurant with two floors of dining area. Apparently it was the local winner of Best Thai Restaurant in Sydney Metro. But was this abode all it was cracked up to be?
Once inside, they were seated in the upstairs area. The furnishing was simple. The paintings on the wall and cutlery betrayed its Thai roots, but it was otherwise very simple and seemed family-driven. The menus were extensive, but were wordy and without pictures. After perusing it for a while, they decided on what to eat. We placed the order for our food, and our waitress asked us whether or not we wanted our entrees first before the mains, and we said yes (this fact is very important for later).
Fish cake $8.90
Patties of minced quality fish fillet, blended with chopped kaffir leaves, finely sliced green beans, Thai fresh herbs and spices, deep fried and served with sweet chili sauce and crushed peanut
Fish cakes are a staple when ordering Thai food at a restaurant. It is a small entree and enough to whet an appetite. There were five small cakes - two bites to finish each - served with a sweet chilli sauce and raw vegetables on the side. The cakes were very tasty and soft, nice and hot. The skin was soft, not chewy. The sauce was quite strong, but went very well with the texture of the cake. It’s definitely worth trying, though it wasn’t the best cake ever.
Beef salad - $16.90
(Wok grilled chicken fillet or wok grilled topside steak tossed with finely sliced ginger, red onion, cucumber and tomato cubes, flavored with lemon juice, chili, mints, spring onion and coriander)
The beef salad was the second half of the entree. There were a few differences between this dish and some other beef salads that Tommy H and family had tried before. Firstly, the beef pieces were slightly thicker than normal, and they had been sliced prior to being cooked. Secondly, the beef was very well-cooked - “well-cooked” as in well-done, rather than medium-rare. Thirdly, the sauce was generously lathered over the dish. For people who particularly like strong flavours infused into their meats and vegetables, it would be an absolutely fine dish. However, it felt a bit too strong, and the individual beef pieces were tough at times, which made the dish require too much effort to eat. Maybe it would have been better to order it medium-rare instead.
This is where there is a pause. Recall that the waitress had asked whether or not to serve the dishes together, or to separate entrees and mains. Well, it was a mistake to separate; it took around 45 minutes after the entrees were taken away before mains arrived at the table. Forty-five whole minutes. It was very unimpressive, and there wasn’t really an excuse, except for the fact that someone in the kitchen really dropped the ball.
Yum Barramundi $21.90
Golden fried strips of barramundi topped with fresh herbs and hot chili, like and fish
This dish was listed as one of the monthly specials. Where does the criticism start? There were about 7 pieces of barramundi. This is all. It was a very steep price to pay for only 7 small pieces of fish, that, quite frankly, were only cooked to an average standard. The herbs, chills and tangy fruits were an excellent combination though, as well as the minty leaves. It was the best part of the dish: the fact that the sauce could be used with the fried rice. Otherwise, it was really just a very poorly executed dish, and nothing really “special” at all.
Prawns fried rice $15.90
Stir fried steam jasmine rice with tiger prawns, mild spices and fresh herbs, garnished with sliced tomato and cucumber
Fried rice is another staple of Thai food; how a place makes fried rice is really a surrogate for their overall taste and quality. This place’s fried rice was above average at best. The rice they used stuck together, and was the slightly thicker grain which made some mouthfuls congeal together in an unsavoury fashion. There was a distinct lack of wok taste. The prawns were fairly generous. However, it really wasn’t that special, to be honest; Tommy H and family have had much better takeaway Thai food before. The plate was quite small as well; just enough for four people to share.
Crispy quails $17.90
Crispy deep fried quails marinated in mixed Thai spices, served with fresh chili like sauce
The dish that arrived at the table last was the crispy quails. There were six pieces in total. Typical of quails, there wasn’t much meat on them, but it was quite delicious. It was the best dish of the night. Unlike some other restaurants, the quails weren’t that salty, which was a welcome change. The sauce was a bit more chilli compared with the one for the fish cakes, so somewhat overpowered the flavour of the quail. The vegetables seemed a bit out of place on this dish.
This restaurant was one disappointment after another. Tommy H and family didn’t want to order dessert because it probably would have taken another forty-five minutes to arrive. Paying $88 was far too steep a price. One has to question how it ended up winning any prizes in 2013. The food wasn’t “bad”, per se, but for such a wait it should have been the best Thai food ever laid before their eyes. The upstairs dining area was staffed by only one waitress, which is obviously insufficient, but that wouldn’t have been the only cause for the massive delays in food service. Overall, there doesn’t seem to be a point in returning to this restaurant. The food wasn’t terrible, and hence it doesn’t deserve a #eww. But if there was a rating below aiight, it would fit this place.