My Favourite

How was your weekend? That’s a common, friendly and courteous question we greet each other first day back at work.

It was good.

So, what did you do?

Nothing really. Well, lots of gardening yesterday. Oh, yes. My partner and I went out for dinner on Saturday night – Thai, and Friday night – Italian. I will come back to that later.

So, what was last night dinner?

I cooked. Curry. Chicken curry with lots of vegetables – eggplant, zucchini, carrots, potatoes and broccoli.

In my response, I asked her back. How about yours?

I looked after my aunty’s little girl at her swimming school with all other kids under 3 years! That’s it. It’s confirmed. I am not going to have any kids, she told me. They are cute to a certain point. There was one that screamed and cried all the time! It was unbearable.

I have done it again. I walked home again today! The fifth time. It was a strange feeling. Not sure how to explain the feeling. The first time, my partner thought I was crazy. I surprised him, and indeed surprised myself too that I actually did it – one hour walk. I am not sure why I did it. Why not drive my car? I guess I want to prove to myself that I can actually walk that far. I guess if I was in Sydney, I would not dream of walking to work and back. The noise, the pollution and crowd would turn me off. But, not in Hobart. It was a nice walk through the less busy CBD main streets.

Today, when my manager was about to leave the office he said to me that his wife is a good friend of my next door neighbour! This can only happen in Hobart. What is the odd that you live next door to someone that is connected to someone at work??? Everyone in Hobart seems to be connected to someone. And, this is true. I have never met so many people that is somehow connected to someone else that I know.

I introduced myself to this neighbour of mine one Sunday afternoon when I was heavily pruning her creepers on our adjoining fence. It was a big and tiring job. I had to climb on a ladder to prune the top, and did my best not to drop any clippings onto her property.

She came home in her Saab, parked at her back garage. Got her groceries from the car. I called out with a soft Hello. No response. I called out again twice, each time a bit louder. She finally saw my little head over the fence. She laughed and said that she could hardly see me. I politely asked her permission for pruning the top of the horrible creepers. That was how we met after 3 months we have moved in.

A couple of weeks later, we inspected a 2 bedrooms unit in our area. The agent met us but had to wait for the owner to show up with the keys. The owner arrived in her Suzuki jeep. I was surprised that I knew her. She was my ex-colleague’s brother-in-law’s partner, whom I have met a few years ago at my restaurant, and then again at our neighbour’s house at our old country home in the Huon Valley. Now, how weird is that?? But, wait until you read this.

When we were about to leave the unit after we have inspected, two women with a young teenage boy showed up. It was my next door neighbour, her son and her good friend.

The next day at work, I saw my next door neighbour’s friend at work! She works at the same company but in a different building.

Then, this afternoon my manager told me his wife knew my neighbour.

Now, this has never happen to me when I lived in Sydney for 9 years.

Indeed, very strange.

Lately, every weekend my partner and I have been dining out. 3 months now since we moved to Hobart. We are still enjoying our new life style in Hobart.

In Hobart, people that I have met always like to know which is my favourite restaurant. That is a common question. But, not a question I usually get when I lived in Sydney. I guess there are so many choices in Sydney that it is almost impossible to name one favourite restaurant. But, I have finally decided which is my favourite restaurant in Hobart. I guess the way to judge is the number of times I have eaten there. I would be lying if I say my favourite restaurant is any restaurant other than an Asian restaurant. So, it has to be an Asian restaurant. But which Asian restaurant. There is really not a lot to choose here in Hobart. There are many Chinese (most not worth mention serving disgusting heavy starchy, and overly salty and sweet dishes), a few Thai, Japanese, Indian, Noodle takeaway, Korean, Vietnamese and Malaysian.

I have posted a few great places that I have eaten and worth the visits; like Me Wah, The Bund, Taj Palace and most recently, Sawak Cafe, Ivory Cafe, Sapa Rose and Vanidol.

The latest I have tried was Infusion Thai in South Hobart.

But, my favourite has to be Suwan Thai in Salamanca Place. I have written a post on Suwan Thai the first time I have been there after hearing from a few other foodies and heard that it is under a different management since it was first opened.

Why do I like Suwan Thai that much? It is disgustingly oily and spicy with complex flavours, pungent at times from the Thai prawn paste. It is the sort of Thai food that I can find in Bangkok, not in a posh, modern and upmarket restaurant, but in a traditional Thai restaurant.

Like Indian and Chinese food, Thai food, style and flavour varies from region to region. At Suwan Thai, the chef does not compromise his style to suit the locals. Even for my taste, I find the dishes extremely spicy and oily. But that is the way I like it. I have been there many times for lunch, but last Saturday night was the first time I went there for dinner.

I was surprise the restaurant was very busy. It was buzzing. It was noisy. There was a yang energy going on here. It was packed. Judging by the place, I believed the restaurant has a capacity close to 80. They take two bookings on the weekend. The first starting at 5 pm. The second at 8 pm. There were several big tables. This restaurant has a no-show policy if you booked more than 6 people.

Suwan Thai is one of those places that if you walked past, you would not bother to go inside. It is tuck inside a small arcade in Salamanca Place on the first level. There is nothing interesting looking from the outside. It is the sort of place that you will walk past and look for something else to eat. Most people that have been to Suwan Thai is by word of mouth.

Without fail, we had to order the curry puffs. That is my partner’s favourite entree at a Thai, Indonesian or Malaysian restaurants. We had to try Suwan’s curry puffs. They were good. Very good, except for the dipping sauce which I believed the waitress had brought the wrong dipping sauce. It was meant to serve with cucumber chili sauce, but we had the satay peanut sauce instead. The puff was nice by itself without adding the dipping sauce.

The next entree was “Phu Cha”, which was 2 battered crab claws served with plum sauce. This entree was just okay. The batter was soft and chewy. It sounded interesting when we first read the menu, and had to try it. Now we know. Next time we will stick with fish cake, which was our initial choice.

The mains, we had “Pla Lard Prig” – deep fried whole snapper with chili sauce and basil leaves, and “Nuer Suwan” – marinated beef with steamed cauliflower, broccoli, carrots and slices of cucumber and tomatoes, and julienne cabbage with a hot tamarind dipping sauce.

The deep fried fish was very good. It was garlicky, very spicy and sweet, with small diced red and green capsicums, slices of red chilies with aromatic flavour of basil leaves. This dish, is one of our must have at a Thai restaurant. The fish has to be perfectly deep fried with crunchy skins, and tender and soft flesh on the inside. The fish is usually dressed on top with chili and basil sauce, or sweet and sour sauce, or the more subtle flavour of fresh ginger sauce. Our preference is the hot and spicy sauce with basil.

The marinated beef is something new to us. I enjoyed the marinated beef infused with aromatic Thai herbs, lightly coated with either palm sugar or honey, and grilled with toasted sesame seeds. It was sweet. The hot, tamarind sauce gave the steamed vegetables a bit of spice and twist for an otherwise boring plain vegetables. The sauce got to me after a few dips. It was sourish and the hotness kicked in after awhile.

Suwan Thai is definitely one of the place that I would not hesitate to go back again and again, especially at lunch time for Pad Thai or Pad Se-Ew. It is, and has to be my favourite Hobart restaurant for now.

7 responses to “My Favourite

  1. Suwan is definitely a favourite of mine too, but it is equal to other Asian places for me. I suppose it depends on what kind of mood I’m in, and what I feel like eating on any particular night as to what place I will choose. My choices can vary from a craving for a chicken parmy (in which case I immediately book, or call for a takeaway, at Da Angelos), chilli prawn fettucine from Paesanos, Hobart’s best peppered steak and chips at Le Provencal, or seafood from Fish Frenzy. As my general instinct is for Asian/Chinese food, I’ll most often head somewhere like Ivory, or Vanidols, or Bund, or Me Wah, or Sapa Rose, or Doms in Blackmans Bay, or Lee How Fook in Lindisfarne.

    But where was the Italian you ate at last week?

    • Hey Rita – we have similar taste. 🙂

      We got in to Paesano, after a couple weeks of failed attempt to get in. We had 2 types of small pizza and salad. I finished with a great gelato coated with hazelnuts dessert. All in an hour since we booked late. Next time, we will book in advance so don’t have to rush and love to try their pasta.

      This Fri is La Provencal for Reb’s birthday. It will be our first visit and looking forward.

  2. Ohhh! I envy you with the Provencal meal. The food is beautiful, but remember the French are reknown for their sauces, and this place excels, in my opinion. When I blogged about my meal there a few years back, it caused a huge amount of controversy. I was criticised for ordering steak and chips (under whatever fancy, schmanzy name they gave it) at a fine food restaurant, but the pepper sauce was the hero of the dish, for me. Also people were very critical of the service from Julie, wife of chef, and co-owner of Provencal. She CAN be offhand, and she DOES give return diners a better experience than others. But, in her defence, she HAS been in the game for so long now, and it’s nice to be on the receiving end of her familiarity when you ARE a return diner, so it’s swings and roundabouts.

  3. Happy Birthday to Reb for Friday. Hope you enjoy Le Prov. We have been going there for years but not lately – time to return. As Rita says the sauces are so French & therefore quite rich. I love the decoration and feel of the place…almost like being there.
    Have you tried Infusion in South Hobart, run by Van of Vanidol. We had a great time there before Xmas.
    This weekend we have a fish luncheon at The Agrarian Kitchen and Sunday lunch/wine tasting at Garagistes…Feeling full already! Cheers!

    • Hi Mary – we are really looking forward to the dinner at La Provencal. It’s Reb choice for his birthday treat.

      We went to Infusion a couple of weeks ago. Spoke to Van. I was going to blog about the food, both Vanidol and Infusion, but we had problems with Telstra and the internet, which made it hard for me to blog.

      Our friends have booked for the Sunday lunch/wine tasting at Garagiste as well. So we will see you there. No doubt we will see a few other familiar faces as well. 🙂

  4. A good read Victor.

    While in Melb last week, I went for an early morning walk to the Prahran markets and I bumped into Greg Barnes. Us Tassies are everywhere.

    In the 90’s used to enjoy my walks to work from Rozelle to Chinatown. Just before the traffic and usually a nice breeze off the harbour…..and even better, a detour to the Pyrmont fish markets.

    Enjoy all your dining this weekend.

    ps – are you and Steve free for our lunch the following Sunday?

    • Dillon – we used to live in Top Ryde (our first place) or we prefer to call it the Gladesville Heights. 🙂

      We drove past Balmain and Rozelle on either side of the main road (Victoria Rd?) then cross the Glebe Island Bridge. Thanks for bringing back all those great memories of living in that part of Sydney.

      Yes, we can make it for lunch. I will DM you on FB.


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