Thai Food Memories in Moonah
by Zilla Gordon
Moving to Hobart from Brisbane almost two-and-a-half years ago, I’d heard this town served up some great food. I knew there were wine bars hidden around a sandstone corner, or I could pick locally caught seafood at tuck in while watching the boats at Constitution Dock.
But I knew little about the offerings beyond the so-called “flannelette curtain”. I knew even less about Sarinya Thai Fusion Restaurant (Sarinya) off Moonah’s Main Road. Making a booking for 7pm on a Friday night, my partner and I were quickly seated and given menus.
There were classics, as well as vegan-friendly options on the menu, so it was tempting to go for my staple order of a chicken pad thai. However, after I noticed the inclusion of a whole fish, the decision-making was easy.
The whole fish instantly took me back to a trip to south-east Asia I had more than ten years ago. I’d been served a whole deep-fried elephant fish and the table of hungry diners were invited to break off crispy shards of fish and roll it into rice paper rolls. So the crispy whole tilapia fish with tamarind sauce ($28) was a must.
We’d also opted for the marinated crispy quail ($12.90), home made Thai fish cakes ($7.90 for four), the larb pork minced salad ($16) and a side of steamed rice ($2.50). While there was a constant flow of Friday takeaways, there were still a few other dinners who’d opted to dine in on the warm and sunny evening.
Our entrees arrived quickly. The fishcakes were fragrant and sung of kaffir lime leaves and their texture soft and moist. Arriving shortly after, the quail was crunchy, salty and tender and a welcome change from a spring roll.
Our larb was everything I’d hoped it to be – my partner and I visited Thailand together in 2019, and we’d struggled to find somewhere that recreated the fresh flavours we’d experienced on the streets of Bangkok. Spicy and light, the khao khua (toasted rice powder) added a satisfying dimension to the well-balanced flavours of spicy, sweet, bitter and salty.
After a little bit of plate shuffling, we made room for the
deep-fried fish, which was accompanied with a spicy tamarind sauce with green beans and tomatoes. You know the food is good when the conversation is replaced by the silence of eating. Although plated with a knife to cut the flaky white fish, I was happy to put in a little extra work and pick off every single mouthful I could.
Potentially a finger bowl would have come in handy here for those who, like me, don’t mind getting their hands dirty. While the fish was good, the accompanying side sauce was the hero. Its distinct sweet-but-sour flavour was perfect when poured over the remaining steamed rice, leaving me with a delicious last mouthful.
With dinner under $70, Sarinya offers great value for money but it also serves up something a little different than a green curry or massaman (although you’ll still find those on the menu). More importantly, the food made me feel like I was back in the balmy streets of south-east Asia. And while the edge of the Moonah commuter car park might not seem like the ideal location for a Friday night meal, after dining at Sarinya, it might be my new go-to.
Sarinya Thai Fusion
1/79 Main Rd, Moonah